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tv   Meet the Press  MSNBC  February 3, 2013 2:00pm-3:00pm EST

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ck on every purchase plus a 50% annl bonus on the cash you earn. it's the card for people who like more cash. what's in your wallet? i usually say that. from nbc news in washington, the world's longest-running television program, this is "meet the press" with david gregory. substituting today, chuck todd. good morning. it's super bowl sunday. and here in washington, some big showdowns are on the horizon. we've got it all covered this morning, including the big game tonight. bob costas of nbc sports will be here to talk about football and player safety issues. but we want to start with a washington battle on full display this week when the president's pick to head the pentagon, former republican senator chuck hagel, came under fire from members of his own party during a very contentious confirmation hearing. >> name one person in your opinion who's intimidated by the israeli lobby in the united states senate.
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>> are we right or wrong? that's a pretty straightforward question. >> senator hagel, please answer the question i asked. today, do you think unilateral sanctions would be a bad idea? >> all this raising questions about how effective chuck hagel will be if confirmed as secretary of defense. earlier this weekend, i sat down for a rare joint interview with the top military leadership the outgoing secretary f defense leon panetta and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff general martin dempsey. secretary panetta, welcome back to "meet the press." general dempsey, welcome. let me start with the man that is poised to take your place. he underwent on thursday a pretty tough round of questioning. he seemed to struggle with a lot of the answers. of course this is chuck hagel, the former republican senator from nebraska. look at some of his answers. >> i should have used another term, and i'm sorry. i would like to go back and change the words and the meaning. the bigger point is, what i was saying, i think -- what i meant to say, should have said, is recognizable.
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it's been recognized, is recognized. well, i said it. and i don't remember the context or when i said it. well, i said what i said. i said many, many things over many years. that's what i should have said. and thank you. >> secretary panetta, many of those answers did not satisfy a lot of republicans. senator roy blunt is going to vote no. he said his answers were too inconsistent particularly related to iran and israel. marco rubio said i've been deeply concerned about his previous comments. john mccain, the fact that he wouldn't answer a straight forward question is disappointmented. john barrasso, he appeared weak and wobbly. are you concerned? >> well, everyone you quoted is a republican, and it's pretty obvious that the political knives were out for chuck hagel. >> and you think that was totally personal, partisan? >> well, what disappointed me is they talked a lot about past quotes. but what about what a secretary of defense is confronting today. what about the war in
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afghanistan? what about the war on terrorism? what about the budget sequester and what impact it will have on readiness? what about middle east turmoil? what about cyber attacks? all of the issues that confront a secretary of defense, frankly, those were -- we just did not see enough time spent on discussing those issues. and in the end, that's what counts. >> you're fully confident chuck hagel is prepared to take your place? >> absolutely. >> general dempsey, we did a word count. something like 37 mentions of afghanistan in an eight-hour hearing. more than 130 mentions of israel. do you think that the questioning was not directed in the right place? >> well, i was somewhat surprised at the things that weren't discussed in depth. but i'm always concerned when afghanistan isn't prominent in any conversation we're having as americans because we have 68,000 young men and women serving there. >> are you confident of chuck hagel? have you spent time with him? you guys have to have a partnership. secretary of defense, chairman
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of the joint chiefs of staffs, whether you like each other or are not, are you confident you can have a good relationship with him? >> i have spent time with senator hagel, including when he was teaching over at georgetown, on strategic issues. and in helping prepare him for this confirmation hearings, we had several opportunities to talk about strategy. and i found him well prepared and very thoughtful about it. >> were his answers to you better than the answers you saw there? >> i'm not going to grade his homework. but in my conversations, he was well prepared, articulate, concise. >> and you're confident he can do the job? >> i'm not going to speak about confidence. he could be my boss. when is the last time you saw a subordinate discuss the confidence in their potential boss? my personal contacts with him have been very positive. if he's confirmed, i look forward to working with him. >> senator lindsey graham said he is going to hold up chuck hagel's nomination until you go on capitol hill and testify in a
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benghazi hearing. i know that carl levin announced that there is going to be a benghazi hearing. i assume you'll be at that hearing. >> i suspect it. >> if invited, you will testify? >> we will -- if we're invited, we'll have the opportunity to testify. and we look forward to it. you know, the defense department has been up there participating in most of the hearings. and so we look forward to presenting what we know what took place. >> what more can be done from your perspective on the pentagon's role in securing our embassies? we just had a near suicide attack, if you will, suicide bomber, at an embassy in turkey just last week. what can be done more than what has been done now? >> the important things to do
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are first of all you've got to build up the host country capacity. in the end, these embassies do depend on host country, the details that provide security. so you've got to try to develop that. >> this shouldn't be more marines? >> no, no. let me get the rest of the part of it. you have to harden these embassies as much as possible. and third, we have been working with the state department to determine whether additional marines ought to be assigned to that area. and in the end, the final alternative is our ability to respond in having our troops in a position where they can respond quickly. but i have to tell you, a lot of that still is dependent on whether intelligence tells us that we've got a big problem, and gives us enough warning so that we can get to the place to respond. >> did you have enough time to get there in time? >> no. >> you didn't have enough warning in benghazi? >> no, we did not. >> anything that could have been done better on the intelligence front, or is this what happens in a place like libya that right now is an unstable state? >> well, we've learned a lot from the benghazi incident.
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as the secretary said, we work -- the state department kind of surveying those parts of the world where there's a new norm, if you will, of instability. in terms of, you know, discussing the intelligence apparatus, it's pretty easy to talk about the intelligence failures. we don't talk much about them many times, and we have intelligence and we're able to stop or prevent or disrupt an attack. so of course we should continue to learn from these events. >> is turkey a success? the stopping of, you know, it was stopped at the perimeters. should we see that as a success? >> i think the fact that that was at the perimeter, the fact that he got nowhere close to where the embassy was, i think that was a good security in terms of preventing it. the fact that we, you know, we were able to locate that and be able to respond to that is an example of good intelligence being able to guide us so we could prevent something more
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serious from happening. >> when we invited you, we knew you were in charge of military, in charge of the defense department. we also didn't realize you were in charge of our economy. just this week, the new gross domestic product number came out, and it turned out here is the a.p. headline that said, defense cuts cause economy to shrink. a plunge in defense spending plummeted the economy into negative territory for the first time since mid-2009. defense spending plummeted for the first time in nearly 40 years. nearly all the cuts were in services, maintenance, and personnel support. this is even before those automatic spending cuts kick in in march. these are the cuts that you guys agreed to back in 2011 that finally kicked in. what is going -- first of all, is the sequester going to happen? >> i certainly hope not. if congress stands back and
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allows sequester to take place, i think it would really be a shameful and irresponsible act. >> but are you preparing for it? >> we have to prepare for it because, you know, there are members up on the capitol hill that are saying, oh, no, we're going to stand back and let sequester happen. let me tell you, sequester happens, it is going to badly damage the readiness of the united states of america. we have the most powerful military force on the face of the earth right now. it is important to provide stability and peace in the world. if sequester goes into effect, and we have to do the kind of cuts that will go right at readiness, right at maintenance, right at training, we are going to weaken the united states. and make it much more difficult for us to respond to the crises in the world. >> president obama, his last campaign promise to the american people, the final debate, this is what he said about sequester. >> first of all, sequester is not something that i proposed. it's something that congress has proposed. it will not happen. >> he said it will not happen. you're preparing for it to happen.
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it seems paul ryan was just on "meet the press" last week and he said it's more likely to happen than not. in your view, is this going to happen? >> in a world of responsible politics, it should not happen. >> ok. we don't live in that world right now. are you assuming it's going to happen? >> look, we've got to plan for that possibility. because there are so many members that are saying we're going to let it take place. but i have to tell you, it is irresponsible. for it to happen. i mean, why in god's name would members of congress elected by the american people take a step that would badly damage our national defense? but more importantly, undermine the support for our men and women in uniform. why would you do that? >> general dempsey, you have said this would be catastrophic. you have talked about this idea of a hollow force. but explain specifically. sequestered, are we less safe? >> we will become less safe. >> how?
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>> i'll tell you how. first of all, it's not just sequester. that's the piece of this that's been missing in the discussion. we're also operating under a continuing resolution. the combined effects of sequester and the continuing resolution creates a magnitude of cut in the last half of the year we have to absorb $52 billion when you count the effects of both sequestration and the continuing resolution in the last half of the year. when some of that money is already committed. and the only place you can go and get it under that circumstance is readiness. it's operations. it's maintenance. and it's training. and by the way, the civilians that you hear talked about as potentially being furloughed -- >> 800,000, i believe. 800,000. you guys are already preparing in the defense department. >> we are. and they will lose two days per pay period, 20% less pay for the rest of the year. these are not people living in washington, d.c. there's a notion that that's probably ok because they are just a bunch of white-collar
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bureaucrats. the 86% that will be affected that live outside of washington, d.c., are in our schools, in our clinics, our motor pools, our depots, our factories. this will affect the entire country. and will undermine our readiness for the past couple of years. >> you are both very passionate. i know you're making phone calls on capitol hill. the president talked on immigration, on guns. has he been out there enough to get congress to do something? >> the president is very concerned about this. he has proposed that we do a budget deal involving $4 trillion. he put specific proposals on the table. you know, as somebody who has worked with budgets throughout my life, in order to deal with the deficit problem, you've got to deal with entitlements. you have to deal with revenues. and you have to deal with discretionary. all of it has to be part of a package. >> is he doing enough? >> i think he's pushing as hard as he can. >> should he be more public? >> well, look. the president of the united states has indicated the concern about sequester.
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he's indicated his concern about maintaining a strong national defense. and he's proposed a solution to this. the ball is in congress' court. they have got to take action to delay sequester. >> i want to move on to some of the hot spots. we'll start in north africa. a lot of news this week. here is the a.p. headline. u.s. limited in fight against north african militants. the united states is struggling to confront an uptick in threats in the newest hot spot with limited intelligence and few partners to help as the obama administration weighs who you to keep islamic extremists from jeopardizing national security without launching war. we want to put up a map here. and explain to people where this is. egypt, libya, algeria, mali, niger. when i read about the idea that we don't have enough intelligence, we've known about al qaeda in north africa since before 9/11. this is the original safe haven of osama bin laden, was north africa. did we drop the ball? >> you know, when al qaeda
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attacked the united states on 9/11, and it became clear that we had to go to war on terrorism against al qaeda, we focused on al qaeda's core leadership and where they were at. and we've done that. we've gone after them in pakistan, afghanistan, and going after them in yemen, going after them in somalia. yes, they are out there. >> it's been out there a long time, right? it's not new. >> it has been out there. but in terms of the threat we were facing, clearly the threat was coming from core al qaeda leadership, which was planning attacks, continuing to plan attacks, in the united states of america. and that's where we focused our main effort. obviously, there are other elements of al qaeda that are out there. you know, we knew that aqim was out there. but we also were focusing on where the main threats were coming from. in yemen, for example, they were actually putting bombs on planes to come to the united states. so wfocused on yemen. same thing is true for somalia. now aqim is out there. i'm glad that france took the
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steps they did. we are now working with france to make sure that al qaeda has no place to hide. >> aqim. is it the number one national security threat? >> no, but they are a threat that is localized, becoming regionalized. and left unaddressed will become a global threat. to the secretary's point and yours about did we miss something here, let's think about what's changed over the last three or four years in that region. the regimes that used to maintain control over that space that would in fact be part of the solution of keeping al qaeda and its affiliates at bay are no longer there. the arab spring has stripped that away. and what we have got is a period of ungoverned space, or we have a period of which -- at which geography is les governed than it used to be. that's why this has become a near term problem. >> he brings up the arab spring.
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secretary panetta, this is the sue here, what is our policy? north africa and the middle east. is it stability or is it democracy? we've been on the side of these democratic movements in libya, egypt, but it's brought instability and it's brought more danger. >> well, that's what change is all about. and that's what we're seeing in that part of the world, is a tremendous amount of change. i mean, our hope is that change can move in the direction of providing greater democracy and greater stability. that's what you hope for for these countries. >> but less stable. >> there is instability associated with change, and that's what we're seeing in these key countries and that's what's creating some of the opening that general dempsey talked about. >> i want to move east here to iran. you have said a couple of times that you did not believe the iranians were pursuing a nuclear weapon, that they have been pursuing the capabilities of nuclear energy or whatever, but not pursuing nuclear weapons.
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are they pursuing nuclear weapons? are you still confident they are not pursuing nuclear weapons? >> what i've said, and i will say today, is that the intelligence we have is they have not made the decision to proceed with the development of a nuclear weapon. they are developing and enriching uranium. they continue to do that. >> why do you believe they are doing that? >> they say in order to develop their own energy source. i think it is suspect that they continue to enrich uranium because that is dangerous, and that violates international -- >> you believe they are probably pursuing a weapon but the intelligence isn't there? >> i can't tell you they are in fact pursuing a weapon because that's not what intelligence says they are doing right now. but every indication is they want to continue to increase their nuclear capability. and that's a concern, and that's what we're asking them to stop doing.
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>> general dempsey, senator hagel said he was -- he was briefed his first trip to the pentagon on potential plans, military plans, to deal with iran should they cross this red line and be seen as pursuing a nuclear weapon. you have been very careful. do we have the capability of stop this militarily? >> we have the capability to -- by the way, iran is not just threatening the region through its acquisition of nuclear weapons. they are very disruptive and malicious influence in syria. they smuggle weapons. they are active in any number of ways. we have the capability to -- i have, we have the capability to provide options to the president in any number of scenarios to include their acquisition of nuclear weapons. >> because you were careful before never to say you wanted -- you wanted them to think that we did, but you were careful never to say that you were. so we have the capability to stop them? >> well, stopping is a decision they would make in a political sense, the same way that other
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nations make decisions. we could -- >> you have the military plan? >> to destroy their capability but intentions have to be influenced through other means. >> secretary panetta, afghanistan and the withdrawal. you know, we heard the white house say there was a zero option on the table. is that a serious option? no troops in afghanistan after 2014. >> you know, the president has made clear in chicago that we are committed to general allen's plan in afghanistan. and it's a plan that's working. >> he's calling for more -- >> but in chicago, we also said that we are committed to an enduring presence. and i believe that the president of the united states is going to do everything possible to implement the chicago agreements. >> so we should expect to see thousands of troops, maybe not 10,000, but thousands of troops in afghanistan after 2014? >> what you should expect to see is we will live up to our
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commitment to afghanistan. the decision on numbers hasn't been made yet. we will also match the mission to the number of troops and keep three things in equilibrium as we get there. one is the mission. second is retro grade. we have a significant challenge of retrogrades people and equipment out. and the third is protection of the force. >> what is the mission? >> the mission in afghanistan is to establish a secure and capable afghanistan that can govern itself and ensure that al qaeda never again establishes a safe haven in that country. >> i want to show you a travel that warning that came out this week. the state department put this out. and i know that afghanistan is not a big tourist spot. afghan authorities have a limited ability to maintain order and ensure the security of afghan citizens and foreign visitors. this is right now. if they can't secure their own citizens now, do we think it will change in a year and a half? >> chuck, let's face it. there's a war going on in
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afghanistan. this is not your peaceful little paradise, you know, where tourists can go to sun bathe. this is a war area. and, you know, the fact is we've made good progress in the war. we've been able to have 75% of their population now under afghan control and security. we've been able to diminish the taliban's capabilities. violence has gone down. we're also developing an afghan army that is increased its operational skill to provide security. so we're on the right path towards trying to give afghanistan the opportunity to govern and secure itself. >> general dempsey, very quickly, women in combat. implementing that. is there some movement on capitol hill to pass a law to make sure you don't change standards, somehow lower standards. do you think that's good legislation? >> they can legislate if they like.
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they don't have to do that, because -- >> you're not going to change your stance? >> we're going to make sure we have the right standards for right job to maintain the readiness of the force. my primary responsibility is the readiness of the force. there's also requirement as we open up occupational specialties to report to congress, and they would have the opportunity to ask us what we've done to standards. look, this really is about changing the paradigm from one of exclusiveness to inclusiveness to do the best job, to make the best force, for joint force 2020, which is where we're looking. we have to get from here to 2020, and make sure we have the right talent in the force. and this is part of it. >> "zero dark thirty." we've got james gandolfini playing you as cia director. i won't ask you to comment on the acting, but the movie seems to indicate that enhanced interrogation techniques were used to get information on bin laden. is that true? >> well, first of all, it's a movie.
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let's remember that. i lived the real story. and the real story is that in order to put the puzzle of intelligence together, that led us to bin laden, there was a lot of intelligence. there were a lot of pieces out there that were part of that puzzle. yes, some of it came from some of the tactics that were used at that time, interrogation tactics that were used. but the fact is, we put together most of that intelligence without having to resort to that. >> and you think you could have gotten it without any -- >> i think we could have gotten bin laden without that. >> it's a big weekend. there's a big contest a lot of people are talking about. >> go 49ers. >> it's the contest that has to do with clinton or biden. 2016. >> oh. >> you've been close to both of them. secretary panetta, i've got to ask you, who's ready to be commander in chief tomorrow? >> i think both of them -- i
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have worked with both of them. if they make the decision they want to be commander in chief, i think they are both qualified to do it. >> what's their distinctive strengths? >> i for joe biden, obviously as vice president, knowing the world, knowing the issues involved, knowing what it means to govern from that perspective. and for hillary clinton, she knows it from every angle now, having worked in the white house, been a part of that, and now as secretary of state knowing the world. >> biden or clinton? >> i'd like to see which of the harbaugh brothers come out on top. >> gentlemen, thank you both for being here. >> thank you, chuck. good to see you. >> as secretary panetta prepares to leave government service again, we spent some additional time with him on press pass to talk about that long career as a congressman, budget director, white house chief of staff, and director of the cia. he also weighs in on what the current issue of "time" magazine calls the rise of the drones, and he has some surprising suggestions for the president going forward. you can watch the full interview on our website, that's at
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coming up, the hagel confirmation hearing. was it political grandstanding or a poor performance? plus, what led the white house to release this photo of the president? apparently skeet shooting on his birthday last year. i'll ask former obama white house press secretary robert gibbs when he joins the rest of our roundtable, chairman of the faith and freedom coalition ralph reed, former national hispanic co-chair for john mccain's 2008 presidential campaign ana navarro, and "the new york times'" david brooks. and later on, bob costas on the future of the game itself. ♪ [ woman ] too weak. wears off. been there. tried that. ladybug body milk? no thanks. [ female announcer ] stop searching and start repairing. eucerin professional repair moisturizes while actually repairing very dry skin. it's so powerful you can skip a day... but light enough you won't want to. dermatologist recommended eucerin.
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coming up, coming up, will we see an overhaul of u.s. immigration laws this year? the issue now front and center as a bipartisan group of senators introduced a framework for reform this week. the president even hit the road to vegas to lay out his broad
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principles. but he issued this warning. >> we can't allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate. if congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, i will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away. >> so given all that, what are the prospects for a deal and how are both sides positioning themselves? our political roundtable is here to weigh in after this short commercial break. what do we do when something that's hard to paint, really wants to be painted? we break out new behr ultra with stain-blocker from the home depot... ...the best selling paint and primer in one that now eliminates stains. so it paints over stained surfaces, scuffed surfaces, just about any surface. what do you say we go where no paint has gone before, and end up some place beautiful. more saving. more doing. that's the power of the home depot.
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we are back with our roundtable. joining me now, former obama press secretary and senior adviser to the president's re-election campaign, robert gibbs. ana navarro, national hispanic chair for mccain 2008. "new york times" columnist david brooks. and chairman of the faith and freedom coalition ralph reed. welcome all. super bowl sunday. >> thank you. >> david, i want to start with chuck hagel. you heard what leon panetta said. the political knives were out. >> it was him. you ever had this nightmare you're back in college, you've been nominated to be the defense secretary, you haven't done any studying all term, and the confirmation hearing is in five minutes? it looked like that. unprepared. even to defend himself. look strong. he's being attacked for his integrity, honesty. hit back. demand some time.
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defend yourself. you've got to do that because you have to have the confidence of the president to get the job and the confidence of the generals in the building. this is a problem. if i were chuck hagel, i'd go to the president right now and say, do you still have confidence in me? do you think i can do the job? >> you would offer to withdraw? >> you have to if you think you won't be effective because of what's happened. i think you have to ask privately that question. >> ana, a lot of the conversation that the white house is trying to say, this was all politics. let me play a clip of your old boss questioning chuck hagel. >> were you correct or incorrect when you said that the surge would be the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since vietnam? were you correct or incorrect? yes or no. >> my reference to the -- >> are you going to answer the question, senator hagel? the question is, were you right or wrong? that's a pretty straightforward
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question. >> well -- >> i would like the answer whether you were right or wrong, and then you are free to elaborate. >> well, i'm not going to give you a yes or no answer on a lot of things today. >> well, let the record show you refuse to answer that question. >> ana, the viewers may not know the history between hagel and mccain. they were close friends in 2000. not so in 2008 when it was clear that hagel's wife was supporting obama and not mccain. was that personal? >> i don't think so at all. anybody who ever saw mccain grill donald rumsfield knows that this is john mccain. this is his job. they are there to advise and consent, not to rubber stamp. if they are not going to get the scrutiny and tough questions now, then when? >> why was he so much tougher on chuck hagel than john kerry? >> because there are so many inconsistencies with hagel. i have never -- i don't remember a hearing where there were clarifications to clarifications that then had to be clarified.
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when there were so many, i regret having said that. there were so many what i meant to say, what i should have said, because he was doing a terrible job, because he's not giving answers. john kerry gave answers. we just saw an interview with leon panetta where he gave answers. he answered masterfully. we saw three tough hearings this week. secretary clinton on benghazi. we saw john kerry go through a hearing. and chuck hagel. and you can not compare the first two to chuck hagel. after i watched the hearing, i remembered the lyrics to a country song. you mean i shaved my legs for this? you mean we're having this huge fight over this guy who cannot even articulate our policy towards iran? >> robert? >> let's be clear. >> this performance was not good. >> two things. i want to go about something that ana just said. if you turned on cspan and hadn't watched tv in the
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intervening six years, you would think we had 150,000 troops parked right now in iraq. this next defense secretary is not going to deal with iraq and the surge. this was a vanity thing for john mccain to try to prove to a former friend who disagreed with him that he was right on the surge and that chuck hagel was wrong. >> what should hagel have said? what would you have told him to say? >> i think he said correctly, we're going to let history judge iraq, because frankly chuck hagel could have said, senator mccain, i think i might have been wrong on iraq. were you wrong on iraq? here's the question. none of that is anything that the next secretary of defense is going to deal with. hold on. let's split this into two buckets. there was the totally out of context questions that won't bear on what the next secretary of defense will do. he seemed unprepared on the questions that quite frankly he knew were coming.
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>> he had mock hearings. should he go to the president and say, do you still have confidence in me? >> i'm reminded through weeks into his first term of the obama administration. time geithner gives a speech at the treasury department about our banking industry and how to save it. three weeks into the administration. three weeks into his tenure. the market dropped 382 points. two weeks ago, tim geithner walked out of the treasury department, four years later, as one of the most influential treasury secretaries in the history of our country. so we get into all of these kerfuffles about one hearing or a few answers. chuck hagel is an infantryman who executed the orders of the secretary of defense and the commander in chief and understands what those people go through, and he'll be a good secretary of defense. >> i know we talked about this. bill kristol wrote the following, comparing chuck hagel to harriet myers and almost daring them to do with harriet myers. they simply thought she wasn't a
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first-rate candidate. they were confident that bush and the courts and the country could do better. it wasn't pleasant in 2005 for them to oppose a nominee tore to but it was the right thing to do and a willingness to do it was a sign of health of the american conservatives. are you surprised more democrats aren't publicly raising concerns? >> i am surprised, and i think privately it's, you know, it's window rattling. how much democrats behind the scenes are saying that this was an abysmal performance by senator hagel. he is the wrong man for the wrong job at the wrong time. and by the way, there were far more questions about the issues that perspectively he would deal with as secretary of defense
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than his record. the reason why his position on the surge in iraq is so critical is because it speaks to his judgment. but when it comes to iran, let's remember, chuck, he voted against designating the iranian revolutionary guard as a terrorist organization at a time when the intelligence was clear that they were killing u.s. soldiers in iraq. this is somebody who wants to command u.s. troops. the revolutionary guard is killing our troops. and he voted against calling it a terrorist organization. >> i want you both to tackle something here. it's the confidence -- he may get confirmed, david. but will he have the ability to go back before the armed services committee and sell cuts? >> he will if he has the ability to do it. that's what we don't know. so look at what the next defense secretary is going to have to supervise massive defense cuts. make key decisions, long-term technical advance, short-term readiness. these are tough questions.
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you have to be able to present leadership and toughness. he is personally a tough guy. i've seen him oppose the iraq war with other republicans. he personally has that courage. but can he project that and show mastery of the building? that's the question. >> the ability to be a salesman, a politician. >> absolutely. let's divide politics from all of this. you know, ralph just said this was about judgment. and david just said opposing the war in iraq takes courage. i think the notion in some ways to say because chuck hagel doesn't believe what john mccain says you question his judgment. for somebody that carried a gun as a general in vietnam, i'm going to trust their ability -- >> well, chuck hagel doesn't believe what he says 10 years ago and 12 years ago. >> i want to go to immigration. this is chuck schumer this week on the issue of immigration. >> for the first time ever, there is more political risk in opposing immigration reform than in supporting it. >> ana navarro, you were closely advising marco rubio, who is a
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part of this group, bipartisan group of senators. is chuck schumer right? there is more political risk opposing than to supporting? >> i think there's political risk on both sides. and i'm very proud of what marco rubio is doing, stepping outside of the political safe zone, really going out on a limb and leading. i think he is making a big difference in how this issue is being received by the conservative base. he is an hispanic republican, they give him deference because of that. he is also very popular with the conservative base and put a lot of time and effort into selling these principles and explaining them before they were announced a week or two. he was on the radio or tv all the time explaining it to the conservative base and in spanish to the hispanic community. it needs to be supported by both. >> you know, ralph, national review respectfully came out against marco rubio's plan.
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they said he's wrong about how to go about repairing the immigration system. wrong to think that an amnesty bill at this time will end up being anything other than at unbuttered side of a loaf of bread, and there's no fear to lose a hispanic vote the republicans never had. you were part of the bush reelection team. they did get a chunk of the latino vote. >> this editorial seemed off on recent history. >> well, the republicans have now lost four out of the six presidential elections since the berlin wall fell. and the only two that they won, the candidate was somebody from a border state, with mexico, who said that family values don't end at the rio grande, and whose vision for the future of the country -- >> you work with a lot of social conservatives. is that message going to work? >> well, i think so, and i'll tell you why. first of all, the devil will be in the details, if i can use that metaphor. but people of faith are commanded by scripture. both old and new testament. to welcome the foreigner and
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show compassion for the immigrant. but there's a responsibility, to obey the law and show respect for the customs of the nation in which they reside in. so, for example, you've got a million people who are spouses or children of people who are here legally. >> with green cards. >> seeking a green card. 200,000 of those are minor children. we do not believe, chuck, that somebody who violated our law as their first step on the road to becoming an american should take precedence over those minor children entering the country. >> is this going to work? >> you know, i have been so frustrated this week. we've got an aging society with stagnant education levels. out there, there is a global pool of talent. they'll pay more taxes than they receive. they'll create a much more dynamic economy. and the last week in washington, we've been side tracked off this
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potential to actually give some growth to our economy by issues of how many links are in the chain we're going to build. what's going to trigger what. does gay marriage affect all of this? it's like this moral obtuseness. this is our only shot at getting a growing economy. this attempt to win the race for global talent out there, and we are debating socrates. >> it does seem like the politics of this is coming together. robert, you're here. i want to quickly talk about guns in this respect. the president, a picture of him skeet shooting. we know that there had been a kerfuffle, this idea was he really -- the president said yes, he had fired a gun. i do have to ask you, have you seen him skeet shoot? >> i have not. but camp david for him is a private retreat that he spends most of the time with his family. i don't think it's whether or not the president shoots a gun regularly or even if he shoots it well. >> why participate then by
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feeding the beast. >> let's not -- the big political development this week in the debate on guns was that the nra came out in favor of criminals having access to any weapon they'd like to in our society, walking back the same congressional testimony that they gave after columbine that having a universal background check to make sure that a criminal doesn't have access to a semi-automatic weapon. i mean, that's the real -- >> i want to show a little bit of this ad. michael bloomberg putting up a super bowl ad, ralph reed and ana, basically supporting the background check bill, showing testimony of wayne lapierre supporting a background check. here is a little bit of that ad. >> the nra once supported background checks. >> we think it's reasonable to provide mandatory instant
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criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. no loopholes anywhere for anyone. >> all right. i'll admit i need quick answers here. can a southern republican vote for the background check bill and get re-elected? >> a licensed dealer at a gun show already does a background check. that's already going on. what we're talking about is antique and special collectors and private sales. i think that's very difficult to legislate properly without killing gun show. >> there is a rural split almost more than anything else. urban politics are more supportive of this idea. >> yes. but i think both the southern republican and the urban republican should all be voting for universal background checks. look, connecticut was a game changer. we need to understand that. the gun issue is here. it's not going away. every other day, we are hearing
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about a tragedy on the news. and people keep asking, what are we doing about it? republicans and the nra should be part of the solution, should be part of the conversation, not just say no. and universal background checks is something that there could be consensus on. >> guys, i have to leave it there. sorry, robert. i'll get you again. you used to be able to cut me off. now i get to cut you off. thank you, all. up next, it's super bowl weekend. we're talking football. bob costas of nbc sports is here. we'll get his thoughts on the culture and safety of the game, right after this. ♪ get ready for a lot more of that new-plane smell. we're building the youngest, most modern fleet among the largest us airlines to ensure that you are more comfortable and connected
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are having a positive impact. the game is exciting, competitive, tough. and safer. we are making the game better by also evolving to a health and safety culture. that is a big priority. >> and we're back with bob costas of nbc sports. bob, welcome back to "meet the press." >> chuck. >> you said the game is evolving to a culture of health and safety, which is another way of saying it's not there yet. >> oh, it's definitely not there yet. but i think goodell is actually well intentioned. >> you do think so? >> yes. i think he is absolutely well-intentioned as a human being. i think he has made significant, positive strides. obviously, as a businessman, he's got to be concerned not only with the lawsuits which could wind up costing hundreds of millions, maybe even potentially billions of dollars. now the nfl is well-heeled, but the lawsuits are a serious thing with more than 4,000 former players involved, and probably more to come. and the other thing he has to be
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concerned about is the present generation and future generation of parents saying, look, we're longtime nfl fans, but knowing what we know now, we're not going to let our son play football. when i first posed that question to goodell nearly three years ago, people looked at me like i had two heads. >> and then here you have the president. this is what he said in an interview with new republic. i'm a big football fan. but if i had a son, i'd think long and hard to see if i would let him play football. there's one study that found that an 11% decline in youth football participation. i can tell you, i have a 5-year-old son. every gathering of fathers we have this conversation. >> and a lot of present players, including players like bernard pollard of the ravens and bart scott of the jets among the hardest hitters in the league. >> ed reed this week said he agreed with the president. and this is a guy that gets fined all the time. >> exactly.
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thomas jones recently retired. one of the toughest players in the league. he told me this past week that when his bears played the colts in the super bowl, i gave him a hypothetical. if a teammate of yours has a chance to sack peyton manning and he simply sacked him, but he could have legally splattered him, would you have been disappointed in that teammate? he said yes, i would have wanted him to splatter peyton manning and knock him out of the game. in the next breath, he says i'm going to donate my brain, however, to be studied afterwards because i understand the effects of the game. and to me, chuck, here's the key thing. no matter how hard goodell and company try, and no matter how sincere they are to eliminate things like bounties, and more important to eliminate the obvious illegal hits to the head and encourage lowering the target and no head-to-head contact, the way football is played, even legal hits are frightening. >> they're faster. they're stronger than they were even 10 years ago. >> bernard pollard's hit on
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stevan ridley of the patriots not only was a completely legal hit, it was celebrated as the essence of football. his coach, john harbaugh, admirable man, can be heard on nfl film saying, b.p., b.p., that's the way the game is played. and yet that hit is no less barbaric or dangerous than one that would get you suspended. >> who takes the leadership role here? is it the players? i say this. alex smith is the backup quarterback for the san francisco 49ers in this game because he was out with a concussion. >> correct. >> what player will self report? they are going to lose their starting job if they self report on this front. if the players aren't going to do it, is it going to take more people like the president speaking out? the congress. teddy roosevelt created the ncaa because of a death. >> well, the players association is pushing for increased safety measures. and next year there are going to be independent neurologists on the sidelines that can diagnose
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and potentially treat concussions as they happen. but one of the things we have to keep in mind is this. that all the research shows it isn't just the diagnosed concussions. it's the hundreds, if not thousands, of subconcussive hits -- >> that they couldn't diagnose 10 years ago. >> right. those are the ones that cumulatively take a greater toll than the concussions. junior seau, who killed himself, shot himself in the chest so they could observe his brain, just like dave do you ewerson d, never had a diagnosed concussion in his entire career. >> is football going to go the way of boxing? and let me ask you this. if football overcompensated on the safety front, do they risk an mma version of football that actually becomes more violent? >> if they overcompensate -- >> it's too safe, and suddenly you see -- >> well, they start a different kind of league, a parallel league? i don't know.
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i guess there are some people who unlike me, i like football despite its violence. a lot of people like it primarily because of the violence. but i will say this. for all the drama, the excitement, the strategy, all the appealing things about football, the way football is currently played in the nfl is fundamentally unsustainable. >> bob costas, i'm going to leave this part of the conversation here. we're going to take a break and we'll be back with more in just a moment.
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bob costas, there's much more we want to get to, including the latest news about a-rod, performance enhancing drugs in baseball and football. but we are out of time. we want to take to the web for a take two, which you can find later on the web. david will be back next week with an exclusive with representative eric cantor, on whether the gop can find any areas to work together with the president. that's next sunday. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press."


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