tv Meet the Press MSNBC June 26, 2011 2:00pm-3:00pm EDT
this sunday, the showdown in washington over taxes and spending. >> a tax hike cannot pass the u.s. house of representatives. it's not just a bad idea, it doesn't have the votes and it can't happen. >> budget talks break down as the president steps up his involvement. can a deal be reached to raise the debt ceiling or will america fail to pay the bills? this morning, the view outside of washington, the gop's rising star, governor of new jersey chris christie who this week took a major step in closing its
state's budget deficit. then, obama's wars, the president announces a timetable to end the troop surge in afghanistan. >> the tide of war is receding. >> some democrats say the withdrawal isn't fast enough? >> we can no longer afford to rebuild afghanistan and america. we must choose. and i choose america. >> the debate inside the democratic party this morning, plus mixed messages from the house on the military campaign against libya. with us, two prominent members of the senate armed services committee, senator jack reed of rhode island and senator jim webb of virginia. finally, our political round table weighs in on 2012 politics. john huntsman makes it official. michelle bachmann announces tomorrow, and the president taps it oil reserves to drive down gas prices for the summer. with us, the bbc's katty kay, chief political writer for new york magazine, mark bai. and columnist for "the new york
times," david rose. "the new yo times," dave brooks. as high-level talks over raising the debt limit stalled next week, the president himself steps directly into negotiations with top republican leaders, senator mitch mcconnell and house speaker john boehner in a white house meeting set for tomorrow. a new poll out this weekend by the associated press shows a deeply divided american public. 41% opposed to raising the debt limit, 38% in favor. >> yesterday i sat down with new jersey's republican governor chris christie coming off of a big budget victory this week in his homestate. late thursday night the democratic-controlled state assembly passed landmark cost-cutting legislation to close the massive budget gap due
to the health benefit fights. the union protesters gathered outside of the capital to protest the legislation. the plan will increase the amount public employees pay for their health care and pension plans, and end the ability for unions to bargain collectively for medical benefits and cuttings off cost of living increases by giving authority over those adjustments to an independent board. it will save the state of new jersey more than $120 billion over the next 30 years. governor christie is expected to sign the bill now tuesday and said the approach in new jersey should be a national model. governor christie, welcome back to "meet the press". >> happy do be here. >> more about the pension victory in a minute. but what you're dealing with in new jersey is the battle in washington too. that's the debt. that's closing the budget deficit. and we have an impasse in washington here now that the president will have to step up
his involvement. the battle, of course, between spending and taxes. what's the way out of this mess here? >> the first thing is that the president has to get involved personally. and what i found in new jersey in our experience in what you just talked about was, there is no substitute for the three leaders in the room having to look at each other and having to hash this out. and everybody's got to put skin in the game, david. i gave on things that i wanted. obviously the senate -- the democratic president of my state and the democratic speaker, he had things i wanted and he came to a compromise that didn't violate our principles. you can't ask people to violate their principles. there has to be a way to create principled outcome where people are also compromising. what the specifics are going to be it's going to be up to the president, the speaker, and senator reed. so they need to get in the room and finish this off. >> the president himself has a certain leadership style. you said yours is different. how so? where do you think the president has gone wrong, particularly in this fight over the debt and the deficit? >> here's what i did in new jersey, i put out this pension and benefit plan first, in september. and i did 30 town hall meetings
across my state selling the plan, increasing the public pressure on the legislature, that's something that needed to be done and convincing the public that my approach is a reasonable one. now, i compromised off my approach. i think if you're the executive, you've got to be the guy out there pushing and leading. you can't lay back and wait for somebody else do it. if the president has made a mistake here, it's a laid back kind of approach where he's waiting for someone else to solve the problem. some people say it's a political strategy. no matter what it is, it's not effective in solving the problems. what we did in new jersey proves that's the way to do it. lead and bring people back to the table and force them to compromise. >> do tax increases have to be on the table? whether they're revenue increases that don't come from changing tax rates but some other way to increase revenue at the same time you're cutting spending back? >> i don't know, david, but i tell you this, those guys sitting around the table are in the best position to make the
decisions. they're the ones who studied the federal budget and the way to go forward here. they're the ones to decide which way it's going to be. i get a sense from new jersey that we're extraordinarily overtaxed. we're the most overtaxed state in america by all of the calculations. there's not an appetite in my state for increased taxes because people think government spends too much in my state. >> you hear a lot of national republicans, tea party republicans like the senator demint from south carolina. he said, look, there's got to be a balanced budget amendment if we're going to ultimately raise the debt ceiling which is what is at issue here in the debt talks which is that america cannot pay its bills any longer. without that, there's extreme political peril for republicans. this is what will be said. >> i think based on what i can see around the country, not only are those individuals gone, but i suspect the republican party would be set back many years. >> he's saying if they don't vote for it, republicans can be voted out of office and the republican party can be set
back. is the tea party going too far? is there too much of a purity test here? >> i don't think there should be purity tests on people. i think you have to make commonsense judgments on things. as i said before, we have to stand by our principles. i do think that the republican party here in washington said they want some significant commitment to long-term deficit and debt reduction. from a common sense economic perspective, david, we have to have that. so let's get to the table and decide how to do that. there shouldn't be any litmus test. we have to trust speaker boehner and senator reid, the president of the united states, to sit around that table and make these determinations. but what i will say is if you're not going to have significant debt and deficit reduction, this country is careening into an economic crisis that none of us are going to be able to handle. >> is it worth forcing the issue? you're a national republican as well as governor of new jersey, forcing the issue to force
america defaulting on its obligations? >> if the president and these guys leave, we're never going to get to that point. >> what you achieved in new jersey, pension reform that other states have not been able to accomplish. you say it's a national model. but the democratic party is in a different state in new jersey. the politics are different there. what's different where you are and how entrenched washington remains? >> what we did in new jersey was immigrant. democrat controlled legislature, conservative republican governor, but we didn't demagogue each other. what happens here, what both parties are guilty of over time is demagoguing each other that makes it impossible for you to sit across the table and bargain with each other. you've read some of the things i said over time. i'm no wallflower. i disagree strongly, bluntly. but i'm not demagoguing people. and i think that the difference in what we've done in new jersey is i said, listen, i'll sit down with the democrats and discuss it any time. any of the issues they want to talk about. but, we've got to treat each
other with some sense of fairness. >> can you get back to where you were in new jersey in terms of the promises made and promises kept to union folks who work throughout your state in terms of pension contributions from the state? or does it mark a new day? >> part of the deal is that we say now the right to those payments are a contractual right by the employees which means they can now sue if the state doesn't make the payments. those are one of the things i gave on to show good faith. i'm making the first pension payment that's been made in years and the the third in 17 years. so i'm putting my money where my mouth is as well in making pension payments into the fund. this is not about hurting union worker the. in fact what this is, is helping them. one independent study says our pension system could have been insolvent by 2018. that's unacceptable to me. we brought a bipartisan group together to say, listen, you've got to fix this. those people earn those
pensions. they deserve to get them. we can't have them on the backs in new jersey. the middle class is suffocating in my state. we needed to get some relief and this is part of it. >> let me get you to assess several areas. afghanistan, is he pulling troops out too fast? >> you know, david, as the governor of new jersey, i'm not going to put my judgment in place of the president of the united states who is briefed on this much more extensively than i am. i'm not going to go there with that. >> i'm not a nation-building guy. i think we've achieved a lot of what we wanted to achieve in afghanistan especially after the murder of bin laden. he knows more about this than i do. i'm not going down that road. >> what about gas prices? do you think it was the right thing to do to tap the strategic reserves to bring down gas prices? >> i'm concerned about that. ithink the strategic reserves is for strategic purposes, not political purposes. >> you think it's political? >> it looks like that. it hurts it credibility of the program if that's the way people
feel it's used. >> what about the economy? you believe in cutting spending in your state and on the national level. what about the fed chief who warned if we're too aggressive about cutting spending, we're going to hurt recovery and restoration of jobs. >> we're at no risk of cutting spending. we're at no risk of being too aggressive in cutting spending. we have a long way to go before we have to worry about what chairman bernanke said about it this week. you saw the minuscule about of money we argued about in the spring this year. this is not a large amount of money in terms of how much spending the overall government is. >> on taxes, do you believe in standard republican fare, less taxes, less regulation. the reality in terms of middle class wage growth is it's not going, even in better economic times that we're in right now with tax cuts, the middle class is still not making more. what are republicans going to do about that?
>> well, i think what we're trying to do in new jersey is three of the last four months, we had private sector job growth, 30,000 new private sector jobs over the last four months. and we're seeing wage growth in new jersey as well. and we're seeing our income tax revenue increase. we have about $500 million more in income tax revenue than we projected for the coming year. we're starting to see that happen in new jersey a little bit. one of the reasons why is we're giving them certainty regarding taxes and regulation. they're not concerned about it going up so things are starting to bubble up and grow again. overall for our country, there has to be greater economic growth. if we don't have greater economic growth, the middle class will not see great wage growth at all. that's what we need to do is to grow the pie bigger. and we haven't been doing that of late. >> let's talk a little bit about politics. hill newspaper has the most coveted political endorsements and you are in the top ten. will you endorse in the primary season? >> not necessarily. it's no legal obligation to. how about that? so we'll see. you know me, i'm not a halfway kind of guy.
if, in fact, i feel strongly about someone, that person would be the best president of the united states, then i'm going to go out there and go full force for that person. if i don't feel that way, i won't. >> do you have a chris christie out there? by that s there someone not in the field that you think should be in? >> no. i think by the end oh the day, i don't make decisions of who should be in the field or not. having gone through that, that's a personal decision. >> what about michelle bachmann, she'll announce tomorrow, the early part of the week. is she a viable candidate in your mind? >> listen, i think she's a person who is serious about what she believes in. i don't know her that well. i only see what's on tv. in some ways that's the most reliable in the world. i'll wait to make my judgment if she's someone who can win. i don't know her ou thall that . let's see how she performs.
put herself out there. see how she performs. >> what are you looking for? you talk about the bigness of politicians in terms of loftier politicians. it's something you like to see, something you're trying to bring to new jersey. who represents them? >> i think any one of them could if they're willing to be authentic. i think what the american people want more than anyone else right now is someone who's going to look in the eye and tell them the truth, even if it's a truth they don't like. but they have to believe the person is speaking from their heart and are authentic. it's not that i'm universally loved i know i'm not in new jersey. what they say is we like him, he's telling us the truth. i think we need to have that politics on the national level. >> a couple of questions about social issues. some questions raised about an abortion pledge within the republican field. is that something you would sign? >> listen, i see the abortion pledge. i don't know what it says. >> basically only all pro-life people working for you, promised
to back anything that coincides with the agenda, defunding public payments for abortion. but -- >> listen, here's my position on it. my name is the name on the ballot. i'm pro life, i believe in exceptions for rape, incest, or life of the mother. that's my position, take it or leave it. >> new york has passed same-sex marriage, historic for the state. should states like new york have the right to do what they did? or do you believe in a constitutional amendment barring states from passing a same sex marriage laws? >> in new jersey, we have a civil union law, and we had a very vigorous debate in 2009 and early 2010 before i became governor about same-sex marriage and it failed under democratic legislature with democratic governor jon corzine. my view is we're going to continue to pursue civil unions. i'm not a fan of same-sex marriage. it's not something i support. i believe marriage should be between one man and one woman. that's my view. that will be the view of my state because i wouldn't sign the bill like the one in new york. >> let me ask you about your own
political standing. you made some tough choices, it doesn't always make you friends. in february you were up to 52%, now you're down to 40%. if your critics could grasp at some things, they would say, yeah, look, this guy's tough talking, no nonsense. he is who he is. there's been a number of incidents that make you to some come across as someone who doesn't like to be questioned. >> you feel that way? you're questioning me. i'm happy to be questioned. >> no i think you are. in any format like this. but there have been examples, the question with why you send your kids to parochial schools. did you you did a show. here's a portion of it. >> you don't send your children to public schools, you send them to private schools, so i was wondering why you think it's fair to be cutting school funding to public schools? >> hey, gail, first off, it's none of your business. i don't ask you where you send your kids to school. don't bother me about where i send mine.
>> i'm familiar with the substance of what you said, which is you're a taxpayer, you pay property taxes, you are the governor for everybody, for religious reasons you and your wife decide to send kids to parochial schools. i'm talking about the temperament. should the chief speak to people that way? >> damn right. this is who i am. the public knows they get it straight from me. what i said to her was don't question my wife and my parenting decisions. that's the most personal thing that you can say to someone. you're a father, you know this. these parenting decisions we make from the heart.
child in new jersey and their public education because my wife and i send our kids to parochial school? i went to public schools. i wish more people in public life would respond that way. >> authenticity is one thing. we can be better in the public square how we interact with people? are you too abrasive? are you too stubborn? are you too tough when it comes to people questioning you? >> i'm huggable and loveable, david. i'm not abrasive at all. listen, i'm honest. i wish we had more of it in politics. you know what people are tired of in politics, they're tired of blow dried tested answers that are given by political consultants to politicians, and everybody sounds the same. everybody sounds the same. i don't sound the same. i say what i believe from my heart. if some people are offended by
that, i'm sorry. i really am. i think more people in new jersey and around the country are seeing that and saying, you know what? i'm glad he stood up for his rights as a father and wife's rights as mother and decide what they want to decide. not cobe questioned about it by anybody. it's not costing anything for me to send my kids to parochial school. you know what? at the end of the day, i think every parent should have the right to decide that most important decision, how their child should be educated. >> your team produced a web video talking about the accomplishment on pension reform. i want to play a portion of it. >> step-by-step, we're putting ourselves on a better, more sustainable path and pushing ahead on the road to growth. that is it the model for the way forward. >> that looked like a campaign ad you could run in iowa and you're going to be in iowa in july. >> i am, july 25 i'll be in iowa with the governor to talk about
the last of the three big things, david. in january, i said three things for new jersey -- keep the budget under control, i will do that by june 30. pension reform will be done on tuesday when i sign it. and the educational reform to improve the educational system for every kid in new jersey. that's next. and then we can say all big things are done. >> you said you won't run for president in 2012, you won't rule out 2016. if they came to you and said, beyond the ticket, i know you said in the past you're not a vp kind of guy. you still feel that way? >> can you imagine? the person who picked me as vice president would have to be sedated. >> you're huggable and loveable. >> i am and but you saw the answer i gave to gail. that's who i am. i don't think that's vice presidential material. >> that's an interesting point. temperamentally, do you think you are not somebody who could weather the scrutiny you could get in that position well? >> listen, i've been scrutinized as much as any governor across america.
i've had plenty of skrcrutiniz thrown my way. what you're understanding that piece is that's personal. that's about my children. you ask me about taxes, spending, all of the oh issues, you ask me about a lot of tough issues this morning. you didn't see me react in any way. i gave you the answers i feel from my heart. but my children are different. i'm a father first. i'm not going to let people question my parenting decisions in public. >> final question, what would you like your role in campaign of 2012 to be? >> to try to help whoever the republican nominee to become president of the united states to make our country a better place for our children and grandchildren. whatever i can do to help and contribute to that, which doesn't fear fear with my primary duties which are governor of new jersey, a family, a father, i'll be happy to do that. >> president obama announces a timetable for withdrawal in afghanistan. was it too much or too little? >> plus the house vote to formally authorize military
intervention in libya fails, but so does the vote to defund the operation. what does it mean for obama and strategy? we'll get reaction from two prom meant voices. democrats with differing views. jack reed and jim webb. and then our political roundtable weighs in for the race for the white house of 201. katty kay, the new york time's magazine's, matt bai and david brooks of the "new york times." you name it. i've tried it. but nothing's helped me beat my back pain. then i tried this. it's salonpas. this is the relief i've been looking for. salonpas has 2 powerful pain fighting ingredients that work for up to 12 hours. and my pharmacist told me it's the only otc pain patch approved for sale using the same rigorous clinical testing that's required for prescription pain medications. proven. powerful. safe. salonpas.
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we are back, joined by two military veterans and members of the senate armed services committee. jack reed and democrat from virginia, jack webb. the debate on afghanistan continues. this is what the president announced this week in his speech. i'll put it on our screen so our viewers can see in terms of the drawdown. nearly 100,000 there now. due to be withdrawn by the end of this year is 10,000. the surge troops in total will be out by the end of next summer. public opinion certainly on the side of a faster withdraw. the latest pew poll shows that clearly, 56% say remove troops as soon as possible. senator reed, did the president simply make a political decision here and say it's time to get out? >> no, i don't think so. he made a very difficult decision in 2009 at a speech at west point about strategy, taking down al qaeda, building
up the afghan army and beginning to reduce our forces in july of this year. he's following through on that strategy. the pace is appropriate. it recognizes that we do have to maintain a presence. that presence is changing quickly to an afghan-led presence. >> the problem, senator webb, in the view of many he rolled the military here. the military made a recommendation, don't pull out so fast. general patreaus who's going to be the head of the cia spoke on capitol hill this week and he talked about that disagreement. watch. >> the ultimate decision was a more aggressive formulation, if you will, in terms of the timeline than what we had recommended. again, that is understandable in the sense that there are broader considerations beyond just those of a military commander. >> what are those broader considerations for the president? >> well, first of all, i met few
generals in my life that didn't want more troops. the president as a commander in chief as the republicans are so often quick to point out as he makes decisions that other people get upset with. when i look at this, first of all, i don't want to second guess decisions that are made with a great deal of consultation with military leaders, with political leaders, and with diplomats. my concern on this is that we do have to get back to rebuilding our country and this model, per se, is not the model of the future. secretary gates said that a couple of months ago. it's not the model of the future. and right now, we are in a situation where we have to look at this in terms of the broader national security interest in addition to the nation building questions. we still have 45,000 troops in iraq that are supposed to be out by the end of the year. i'm not holding my breath. we have a new situation in libya where the president made a unilateral decision that i among others have serious problems with. most importantly, this is something that does not get discussed, as we have focused on
the last ten years on this part of the world, our respect to china and china's expansionist military activities has deteriorated. we're in a point in the south china sea right now we're approaching a new moment with china. it's not being discussed. >> we'll get back to that, but i want to keep it framed here about what's going on inside the democratic party. you're both democrats, of course. we spoke with our weekly conversation called press pads which is available on our blog and website with barbara lee that california democrat and the house and i asked her if there was a political will among liberals to keep funding the war in afghanistan? this is how she responded. would vote to end funding now? >> oh, yes, i'm going to offer an amendment to do that. that doesn't mean i do not want to -- i'm going to make sure we have enough funding to protect our troops and provide for what they need and to bring them home safely and orderly. we need to cut the funding, as appropriator, that's our job, that's the congress' job.
we have to cut the power of the purse strings and do what we need to do to secure the national security and the economic security of our young men and women in uniform and the economic security of the country. >> senator reed, there's a lot of people, particularly in the democratic party that say, look bin laden is dead. al qaeda is not a presence in afghanistan. we have to draw it down quickly now. there's something vague about the migts remains. >> there's a failure in the country not just the party. particularly afghanistan because it's been ten years but ten years of starting and stopping. the president has laid out a very clear strategy. we're coming out of afghanistan. we're shifting on the emphasis and indeed shifting, we hope, the requirements to support the troops there is to the afghanis. he's done the same thing as he's pledged in the campaign to bring our troops out of iraq.
>> is it really that clear? senator webb, the mission, what we're actually still doing there seems a bit unclear. gene robinson wrote the following in his column in "the washington post" on friday. perhaps the most disheartening thing he wrote about the speech is the absence of fresh thinking or clear thinking. sticking to his strategy or switching to a counterterroism approach or perhaps doing a bit of both. there was no evidence that he considered the possibility that the war is being perpetuated not by rationale pursuit of our interests but by its own inertia. is it too compromise here that leaves us with an unclear way forward? >> there's a legitimate question of what the end point should be or could be. on the other hand, we don't want it to be a negative end point given what we put into it. this is a very careful process that has resulted in the president's decision. and it's time based. it's -- it's time and circumstances based.
that's one thing secretary gates and admiral mullen have been clear about. it could be quicker. we don't want to be in the process, from my perspective, of sending the wrong signals to people like the taliban, who we are asking to be an end point of the negotiation. >> i've been saying all week, keep your eye on the diplomacy here. the taliban, our enemy there, is really the key, in many ways, senator reid to the future. they're going to have to be back and become a part of the government in afghanistan, a central government, pakistanis have to be involved. where does that rank on our priority list? >> it should be at the top of our priorities as we shift out of a military-led presence. we have to have a strong diplomat presence. it has to be regional. it has to re-engage taliban to reinject and be partners. it has to involve the pakistanis. in fact, one of the reasons why we have to be, i think, somewhat measured as we do come out, and
we are coming out, is because you have great instability not just in afghanistan but pakistan. you have a country that has nuclear weapons. you have long-term animosities between the pakistanis and the indians. so we do have to pursue a much more aggressive diplomatic approach. but i think the key here is within afghanistan, we're no longer, i think, talking about nation building. we're talking about stabilization, we're talking about creating a military force that can stabilize their country and take the lead from us. and continue, and i think we have to continue to have some kind of presence there, slimmed down so we can strike any type of extremist group that's happening in the united states. >> we don't have stability yet. senator mccain and others warn about withdrawing and what the consequences of that could be. david rose of "the new york times" held captive in afghanistan and wrote a book about that experience also talked about the consequences of leaving without stability.
this is a portion of what david rohde writes. at the same time simply walking away from afghanistan and pakistan and hoping for the best is not an option in an increasingly interconnected world. based on my experience in the tribal areas a sweeping taliban victory in afghanistan would embolden hard line militants who hope to impose sharia law across the world. their belief that they can defeat westerners who fear death and are unwilling to endure sacrifice to be reaffirmed. no clear answer has emerged to the question how can religious extremism be countered? senator webb, in our war weariness in this country, do we risk not stabilizing the country and getting this kind of result where the taliban wins? >> i don't think very many people are willing to accept that result. at the same time, that doesn't mean the model we're using isn't
an appropriate model in the future and in afghanistan. one of the key points -- this is an area that senator reed and i may disagree on. i do not believe we need a permanent presence in afghanistan. i think it's counterproductive to what we're trying to do strategically. it's enormously costly. we are ignoring -- excuse me, we are ignoring the realities of a serious emergence in asia that will have more impact on our strategic future than anything going on in this region? >> what about libya? >> i don't think we need a permanent presence in iraq and i think we need a presence in afghanistan, pakistan, but that presence hopefully one day is going to be diplomatic more than military. but if we need military options to go in, we have to have those options. >> can i ask you quickly about libya? mixed signals being sent to the president about the mission there. are you concerned about what we're doing? >> i think the president would have been better served to more forcefully come up and ask for a resolution in favor of his activities. now with the house vote to confused no support, but they're still going to fund the operation.
i hope in the senate we can pass a kerry-mccain resolution. >> that would give another year for operations? >> gives certain -- gives approval for the continued limited operation. we have no ground troops, no intention to put ground troops in. we're supporting nato. we're doing that because there there are two u.n. resolutions, there's an arab league resolution. this is an unusual moment where the arab league, the united nations, the european community are all committed to trying to get rid of gadhafi. >> is this the right fight? he's still there. we were supposed to get him out sooner. >> no one wants to see gadhafi still in power. you expect the united nations resolutions that the security council vote was taking with the abstention of india, brazil, china and germany. this was not the u.n. saying
this is a great thing to do. the president did not come to the congress. the reason he knew this going in defied historical precedent. we weren't under attack, under imminent attack, we weren't honoring treaty agreements. we weren't rescuing americans. on the one hand there's a serious issue of precedent here. on the other, we need to be clear that once gadhafi is gone, we won't have americans in there as a peacekeeping force. we've got to stop this addiction. we've got to start focusing on our true strategic interests. >> and would you vote to cut off funding for the operation? >> senator luger is putting a series of amendments together on the kerry-mccain legislation which i'm going to support. he's had the wisest brain on this problem. >> what would be the bottom line of that? >> clearly say no ground troops. there's like six or seven amendments that are still being worked up. but i think his approach is rational the one the senate needs to take. >> going to leave it there. senators, thank you both very much this morning. >> thank you. coming up, decision 2012,
john huntsman's first week on the trail. and rumblings that rick perry may throw his hat in the still unsettled republican field. and michelle bachmann officially anounounces her candidacy tomorrow, the latest on the race for the white house imposing the new poll for the key state of iowa. a political round table coming up. "the new york times" magazines, matt bai and david brooks of "the new york times." we don't just make a taillight... ..we make a sculpture. we don't just make a sunroof... ..we make the heavens wide. we don't just make a crossover... ..we make a statement. the cadillac srx. we don't just make luxury cars, we make cadillacs.
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we are back, we are back, joined by our political roundtable, washington correspondent for the bbc, katty kay, columnist for "the new york times," david brooks, and chief political writer for the "new york times" magazine, matt bai, has a big piece in today's new york magazine about huntsman. welcome to all of you. there's criticism mounting towards the president whether it's the debt ceiling talks, whether it's afghanistan, trying to have it always. compromising too much. you heard governor christie say, look, he can't wait for the other people to solve these problems. he's got to do it. is this a fair rap? >> yes. christie is like a big man theory, literally. which is he wants to be in every room. he wants to be doing the town meeting and negotiating little bitty details. obama is different. he's like convener in chief. you guys take care of that, you guys take care of that. as president, he's proving he can be a good senate majority leader. you guys do that.
i'll hang back. and when the time comes, i'll bring it together at the end. that has some advantages. because it gets a lot of people to the table. it has a lot of disadvantages. it's like trumpeted to battle by miles davis. huh? you think about it? that's good. you appreciate it but not charging. a lot of democrats in particular think lead of on a charge for once. but that's not who he is. he's more of a convener. >> afghanistan is a good example where, again, the search for consensus and compromise leave some people saying, well, what exactly are we doing now? "the economist" wrote something that caught my eye this week. i'll put it up on the screen. mr. obama tried to give everyone something, to the political strategists worried about re-election, his message was that nation building should start at home. to his generals worried about any withdrawal, he can still claim that he will end his first term with more troops in afghanistan. the middle ground is often good politics, it is less comfortable
in warfare. in this case, history will probably judge that mr. obama probably took out too many soldiers too early. >> if you ask the white house whether the surge in itself was another form of compromise. the generals asked for more and obama gave them something in the middle, was that worth it? was that a compromise that didn't pan out? they aren't clear that this has been the last two years of having extra troops there has been something that won them very much. if president obama had gone with the biden strategy and not added surge troops, we could have ended up in the same position that we're in today. would that have been a more effective use of american resources? you have the thought that the president was caught back then between the surge and his generals and the white house said don't push too far. went for middle path and has that gained very much. >> apply this to the ceiling talks. the gain right now, the president is willing to give on medicare some, how big that some is matters.
and would that create some space for republicans to get something, not on tax but on revenues, to get some sort of grand bargain? now it looks like it's time for the president to lead this charge. >> i think the problem here is -- they're probably going to get a deal. the problem here is that they haven't been able to do this in public. the president shared a lot of this in secret in the back negotiation. and that's what dislodges this kind of disagreement, what builds compromise is public opinion. if you look back to 1996, say in the budget crisis, right? what made republicans fold up the tent on president clinton was the obvious polling that showed that they weren't going to survive it politically. if you do everything in secret and don't take your case to the public and plead it out, what happens is both sides think they're politically viable. they both think they can get away with their positions. until one knows they can't, it's hard to get a deal. >> it looked like we're moving toward this final phase for a long time, right? and i think the public opinion thing is key. christie went out there and held the 30 town meetings obama has
not done that. he's not gone out with the pie charts and said here's what we got to do, people. i doubt they'll be able to sell it. i'm very pessimistic about what's going to happen here in the next several months. the second thing is both sides think the political advantages with them has gone over the wall. the republicans think, hey, if the economy crashes, people will blame obama. let's take it to the wall. the republicans say -- or the democrats say, hey, if they schlep down the government, we'll send letters out telling recipients, sorry, you won't get the checks because of those republicans. they think they have the advantage. that makes me think it will go to the wall and beyond. >> right, right. >> the pessimism here. because i think there's a broader issue about the value of having this debating public and the financial markets have come out with the biggest electric shop in 18 years. they seem skiddish at the moment. this may be political
brinkmanship. if you look at the markets at the moment, you think american politicians seriously talking about the prospect of this country defaulting. they could impose some sort of financial penalty on the states. they could raise rates. that would put us back in the recession again. this an extremely dangerous debate for american politicians to be having. >> i spoke to a ceo and he said you go around the world, asia and europe, there's a sense that pax americana is over. even in a more positive way, david, that american influence is waning because the politics is not up to the task of some of the challenges we face. >> we've got a government program. we don't have a country problem. we're an entrepreneurial country. we're the only country in the world, big country where people from all over the world can magnify their talents. we have a government problem. we have to do three things, be fiscally sustainable do it in a way that increases growth and increases equality. those are three things. for any of us think our system is created to do three things intentionally to each other all at once. it means borrowing from column a
and column b, i haven't seen that level of borrowing. >> i want to get to politics here for a moment on the republican side and go to the cork board that we show each week. notable of who's in, michele bachmann is going to announce in iowa tomorrow. and those still on the fence is also interesting. palin, she will make a trip to iowa coming up. giuliani, rick perry, still buzz about him. first polling we've gotten out of that important state, iowa. look there, romney and bachmann, neck and neck. this is met by good news for bachmann. a strong debate, from iowa. bad news for pawlenty who needs to show strong there. >> how many times can a person announce? it reminds me, david, you play these games like at amusement parks where you put the water through the hole. we're two squirts into this. the first poll, it started more
than usual, it's the first poll out of iowa. obviously, if you're someone down to 3% to 4%, you have cause for concern, if you're michelle bachmann, that's a great start. but we need something to all talk about and we write and talk about data that is largely meaningless at this point. these folks have to get out there, introduce themselves, make their case. that process is continuing to unfold. >> john huntsman was there in front of the statue of liberty this week, but you couldn't see it with the camera shot this is part of what he said. >> and today, i'm a candidate for the office of president of the united states of america. my kids can't believe i just said that. >> david copperfield made the statue disappear. >> were not rave reviews for this and questions about where huntsman fits in the race. >> particularly in this primary process. you can paint a plausible scenario for giving president obama a run for his money if he manages to get the nomination. whether he can get the
nomination with his past positio positions, he supported civil unions, trade issues. cap in trade seems to be the new litmus test for conservatism. it's hard to see him winning over primary voter else. he's running as the self-style thinking managed republican. i think grassroots of the republican party, that comes across as offensive. >> he doesn't even call himself a conservative -- >> the republicans themselves aren't thinking people? >> i think there's a big market here. people think that the tea party is the entire republican party. john mccain won the nomination. there's a lot moved rats out there, a lot of independents. >> the thesis of your piece was his theory of the case at the moment is trying to fill a vacuum. in other words, why were republicans unhappy with the >> as david said, i reject the view. i have no idea how it will turn out. i reject the view that the republican party in the grassroots is so monolithic and unenlightened that nobody can
come in and disagree with them and have a core issue. the impact on history is -- i mean, look, not to -- not to beat on the same dead horse, but this is about making your case in a sense. we talk so much about the math and the path and the numbers and hows he going to get there and get that constituency and that constituency. he's yet to go out. tim pawlenty is yet to go out. mitt romney has yet to go out to tell the people what they feel about the country. >> does john huntsman need to do that as he announces? if he's coming out as the guy who has the policies and thinking, i'm not sure what john huntsman stands for. >> i don't think he did. it would be better if he did. i'm not saying he can get there. i have no idea whether he can. but i think if you look back to barack obama in the summer of 2007 had not figured out exactly what he wanted to say, what his pitch was. there's an evolution that goes on with presidential candidates. i think the problem for huntsman is he's behind the curve having been away. >> and the other rival to pawlenty and romney has fumbled it. the biography of the working
class guy. my dad is a truck driver. my mom died when i was young. his agenda is the silicone valley agenda. corporate tax cuts. it's all for entrepreneurs. so, pawlenty doesn't understand his own campaign that leave rooms open for huntsman to say i'm unusual. >> what about palin now going to iowa for the documentary about her that's premiering. she's doing that this week when michele bachmann is making her announcement. is she the spoiler role? what is she doing? >> the multimillion dollar question of this campaign and has been over the last six months. increasingly, a palin candidacy looks less plausible than more plausible. her negatives have been rising. she has a couple of key events she hasn't handled particularly well. it's harder to see her now. >> let me get a break in here. we'll come back with our trends and takeaways segments. what to look for ahead and this week. plus what are the hot political trends trending this morning.
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final moments with the round table. i wanted to show you the political trend tracker. big moments this sunday morning in the political world. one of the things there is something we've been talking about, romney and bachmann leading in the iowa poll. the new york gay marriage vote. the debt ceiling talks continue to round out the top three. on this program, one of the things that strikes us as news this morning -- senator webb talking about libya. and being quite critical of president obama on the strategy.
listen. >> the reasons that he used for going in defy historical precedent. we weren't under attack, we weren't under imminent attack. we weren't rescuing americans. so on the one hand, there's a serious issue of precedent here. on the other, we need to be clear that once gadhafi is gone, we won't have americans in there as a peacekeeping force. >> david brooks, this fight over libya is far from over after the house sent mixed messages. what's the next step? >> well, there's a lot of fatigue in the country and the obama administration did not help itself by not consulting anybody. but the fact of the matter is we're in an historic moment. no president is not going to want to do something good. any president, republican or democrat will try to lean forward and try to depose people like gadhafi because this is a unique moment. >> we've been monitoring the conversation going on on-line this morning. as to our debate about afghanistan, tweet deck, the
conversation there about afghanistan included this observation -- david rohde quote on "meet the press" was spot on. that was the end game. taliban would come back emboldened. i worry about the welfare of afghan women if talibs do come back. a big concern. spent a moment looking at the week ahead here for decision 2012 and a few important things on the calendar coming up this week. monday, of course, michele bachmann is announcing in waterloo, iowa. tuesday the president continuing to talk about manufacturing and the economy. we mentioned sarah palin is going to be in iowa. tim pawlenty with a foreign policy speech. and on thursday, this is important, matt bai, second quarter fundraising deadline. we're going to get a barometer of who's doing what on the republican side, quickly. >> it's something to look at. mitt romney has been solidifying front-runner status. i assume he's going to do that in the fundraising numbers as well. it's super early. a lot of the money is sitting on the sidelines waiting around. >> we will be watching. thanks to all of you. that is all for today. we'll be away next sunday during nbc's sports coverage of