tv Meet the Press NBC June 19, 2011 8:00am-9:00am PDT
people, companies, communities to face the challenges yesterday left behind and the ones tomorrow will bring. prudential. bring your challenges. this sunday, obama at war. in libya, several months of air strikes have failed to topple moammar gadhafi. and some house and senate leaders are now demanding that the white house seek congressional approval for continued military action. >> i think it's time for the president to outline to the american people why we are there, what the mission is and what our goals are and how do we exit this. >> in afghanistan, the debate heats up over just how many american soldiers should return home this summer. and the cost of war is a huge factor as budget talks between democrats and republicans grind on. a debate this morning between
assistant majority leader in the senate, democrat from illinois, senator dick durbin, and republican senator from south carolina, member of the armed services committee, senator lindsey graham. then the race for the white house. and gop field taking center stage in new hampshire. >> i want to announce tonight, president obama is a one-term president. >> this president has failed. and he failed at a time when the american people counted on him to create jobs and get the economy going. >> this president is a declinist. he views america as one of equals around the world. >> as the candidates keep the focus on the president, who will emerge as obama's biggest challenge? and the final act in the weiner scandal. >> so, today i'm aing my resignation from congress. >> how do democrats now refocus their agenda? this morning our political roundtable weighs in. the mayor of los angeles and president-elect of the u.s. conference of mayors, antonio
villaraigosa, editorial page editor for wall street joernl, paul gigot, historian doris kearns goodwin, chief white house correspondent and political director for nbc news, chuck todd, and nbc's chief foreign correspondent, richard engel. good morning. a bipartisan golf game captured the eyes of washington as president of the united states and speaker of the house john boehner teamed up yesterday against vice president biden and republican of ohio, john kasay, still miles apart on critical issues, the budget, the future of the economy and the president's foreign policy. we'll get into though debates this morning with assistant democratic leader dick durbin and lindsey graham. good morning. i want to start on the budget and future of the economy because these two sides, democrats and republicans r still far apart.
senator durbin, the big question, if you know the contours of the debate here, are republicans going to deal on taxes? are democrats really going to cut spending on issues like medicare? where does the breakthrough come from? >> i think vice president biden is leading this bipartisan effort and progress is being made. that's a good thing. i hope they can reach an agreement, at least oi-o a short term budget agreement that leads to passing the debt ceiling ahead of time. we shouldn't wait until high noon to pass this debt ceiling because it will mean higher interest rates if we don't, it will mean stalling our economy further and risking -- >> senator, we know the stakes. where does the breakthrough come from specifically? >> i can tell you the long-term breakthrough, i hope, engaging both parties to put everything on the table. let me underline the word everything. it's painful for democrats because we're talking about entitlement programs, painful for republicans because we're speaking of revenue. but i think the president's deficit commission got it right.
if we put it all on the table, we can do it in a sensible fashion. >> and would you then support a package that involved cuts to medicare benefits, if that's what was required for a grand bargain? >> i wouldn't go -- i certainly wouldn't go as far as house republican budget, which i think would eliminate medicare as we know it today. there are ways to make health savings in medicare. health savings that will mean it will be a solvent program for so much longer. we shouldn't, though, break the basic promise to the american people that medicare is going to protect them in their retirement. >> senator graham, i hear in that something i've heard from my own reporting at the white house, which is that democrats may be willing to deal on actual cuts to medicare benefits, it could be means testing, raising the retirement age, but that would have to create some room for republicans to deal on revenues. maybe not tax rates. but doing some things to create some extra revenues for the government. do you see that as something you could support? >> well, what dick and the gang of six was trying to do is exactly that, take the $1.2
trillion in deductions we have, that we give out to special interest groups, eliminate some of those deductions, that will increase revenue and pay off the debt. no one on the republican side's going to vote to raise taxes but i think many of us would look at flattening the tax code, do away with deductions and exemptions and take that revenue to help pay off the debt. >> so, you're not opposed to some -- some moves that could actually create some new revenue? >> one way to do that is to do away with ethanol subsidy and a bunch of subsidies that go to a few people, take that money back into the federal treasury and pay off the debt. that doesn't raise attacks, that takes the special interest group grae train away and pay off debt. >> senator durbin, what's going on around the world is something we're debating in america. look at images out of greece this week, governments defaulting in europe, potentially big cuts in
spending. this is the result. rioting in the streets. union members and citizens saying, this is way too much. senator durbin, are we headed in this direction, with the kind of actions we're talking about in items of cutting public spending? could we are that kind of reaction here? >> i don't think so. we can avoid that if we act like grown-ups. we did not call for medicare benefit cut. we have to keep our promise to seniors that medicare will be there to protect them, but there are ways to make savings in medicare. ways to put in some competition, for example, in the prescription drug program, that will dramatically reduce the cost, but when it comes to america making a sacrifice, so that we can move forward, i think americans have always rolled up their sleeves and pitched in to do it. keep in mine, for every dollar we spend in washington we borrow 40 cent, primarily from china, our major competitor in the world. this has to come to an end and it can. we have have a sensible, responsible discussion based on
the sif son commission, if we put everything on the table and respect the basic program, social security and medicare, that people count on for retirement. >> let me pin you down on medicare since you brought it up again. could you see supporting the retirement age or means testing -- >> no. >> where are the meaningful savings -- you say you don't want to break the promise. the reality is it's not sustainable for the future of the american people, is that not true? >> david, let me tell you, telling people on, wait two more years for medicare is not a good idea. think about how vulnerable people are at that age. maybe they're re, at this point have no health insurance, medicare is their life line to basic health care protection. and i think the house republican budget went too far. we don't want to go that far. >> i want -- senator graham, let me get back to the other point which is what we're seeing going on in the eurozone, potential default. is there a risk from your side of the aisle, that these draconian cuts in spending, so many americans think are necessary, may actually halt what we're still seeing as a very fragile, very weak economic recovery? >> well, the 20 10 election was
about what? a rejection of the democratic congress's explosion of spending. it's no accident that we picked up the house after the stimulus package, obama health care. the american people saw what was going on, doubling and tripling the debt and they said no. there is no way on god's green earth you're going to balance the budget until you put entitlements on the table like ronald ragen and tip o'neill. what did they do? they adjusted the age from 65 to 67. we need to means test benefits. everybody on this program could in the future give up some of their benefits for social security to keep it solvent. you've got to do the same thing on medicare. slowly but surely adjust the age and upper income americans should pay more when it comes to -- >> but your party is not with you on that. paul ryan didn't even include social security in his budget plan. nobody is willing to go in and touch these things. >> ronald reagan and tip o'neill
were grownups. they came up with a formula to save social security that showily but surely adjusted the age. people over 55 are uneffected. i think young americans believe social security and medicare are going to fail if we don't do something. why should you and i get 100% of our medicare paid 75 cents of every dollar comes out of the general treasury. we should be paying that ourselves because we can can afford to. >> let me spend a few minutes on foreign policy. congressman, republicans bucking the president's version of foreign policy. let me start with libya. wi are there actually hostilities involved. white house says u.s. operations don't involve sustained fight organize active exchanges of fire with hostile forces nor do they involve u.s. ground troops. are there hostilities? house speaker boehner said, come on, this is ridiculous. >> part of an effort to drop
bombs on gadhafi's compounds. i don't know -- i just -- doesn't pass a straight face test in my view that we're not in the midst of hostilities. >> so, why shouldn't there be specific approval from congress to wage whatever we're waging there, senator? senator graham, i'll start with you. >> talk to me? >> yeah. >> number one, i would take the course conservatives have taken for the last 30 years. the war powers act is unconstitutional, not worth the paren it's written on. it requires congressional approval before commander in chief can commit troops after a certain period of time and allow troops to be withdrawn based on the passage of a concurrent resolution never presented to the president. so i think it's an infringement on the power of the commander in chief. the president's done a lousy job of communicating and managing our involvement in in libya, but i will be no part of an effort to defund libya or to try to cut off our efforts to bring gadhafi
down. if we fail against gadhafi, that's the end of nato. egypt's going to be overrun. and the mad dog of the mid east, ronald reagan called gadhafi, if he survives this, you'll have double the price of oil you have today because he will take the whole region and put it into kay cross. and i will be -- i won't be any part of that. so for my republican point of view, the president needs to step up his game with libya but congress should sort of shut up and not empower gadhafi because he wrote a letter to the congressional leadership basically thanking them for their involvement in trying to end this conflict. >> senator durbin, you're on opposite sides of this. you do think the president should get specific authority from congress to do this. what about the view you're sort of giving some aid and comfort here to republicans who simply want to buck the president on any foreign policy goal, your own leader in the senate, harry reid, said, no, we don't need a war powers approval resolution here. yet you disagree. >> i respect harry reid very much and certainly the president, as you know, but i
respectfully disagree. it's true, the war powers act is infringement on president's power as commander in chief, so is the constitution. the president's doing the right thing. what we have here, this would-be butcher of benghazi, gadhafi needs to be stopped, so he doesn't kill innocent people. the president brought together the arab league, the united nations and nato and said, we're going to play a supportive role, no ground troops. we're going to have a limited duration conflict to stop gadhafi. that was the right thing. but i think that the war powers act and constitution make it clear that hostilities by remote control are still hostilitiehos. we are killing with drones what we would otherwise be killing with fighter planes. we are engaged in hostilities in libya. what we should do is act on a timely basis to pass congressional authorization under the war powers act. i reject the republican approach which has been suggested by speaker boehner and others to
cut off the troops. it would give solace to gadhafi, undermine the people who are resisting him in that nation. i agree completely with lindsey graham, it would call into question the future of nato. >> we don't have any troops over there. senator graham, the reality is, what are we doing? what is the end game? you talk about it would be the end of nato. what nato has done for several months hasn't worked. there is this criticism -- >> you and -- >> of you and others the advocacy for perpetual war when we don't have a plan. >> well, we do. we had an opportunity to end this very quickly. the day you took american air power off the table, nato become a weakened organization but we are making progress. gadhafi is on his last leg. the rebels are getting stronger. they've taken the fight to tripoli. i said about four weeks ago, go after gadhafi's inner circle, break their will. we're pounding tripoli. the big mistake was to take american air power off the table. what i would like to see is for
america to rejoin nato when it comes to an aerial bombardment. we don't need ground troops. if you don't think gadhafi's surviving affects america national security interests, we're on different planets. if he survives, it's end of nato, on you standing in the world goes down, egypt gets overrun by refugees and the mad dog of the middle east, gadhafi, is out of his cage and you'll see oil prices double. you will see iran recalculating. >> let's take a couple minutes and talk about afghanistan. this is the other big debate that is really coming to a head this summer. you're on opposite ends of it in terms of how many troops should come home with the draw down begins next month. senator graham, within the republican party there is a growing debate about afghanistan as well. mitt romney, you say he's front-runner of the republican race and he says this about america's role in afghanistan during the debate this week. listen. >> i also think we've learned
that our troops shouldn't go off and try to fight a war of independence for another nation. only the afghanis can win afghanistan's independence from the taliban. >> to which you said, he may be another jimmy carter. you said this about another republican. >> well, i said that the debate last night was more like jimmy carter than ronald reagan. if you think the pathway to the gop nomination in 2012 to get to barack obama's left on libya, afghanistan and iraq, you're going to meet a lot of headwind. this is not a war of afghan independents. this is the center of gravity against the war on terror, radical islam. it is in our national security interest to make sure the taliban never come back. if with we fail in afghanistan, they'll kill every moderate who tried to help us. no one will step up. it will destabilize pakistan tshg will be abe security mistake. here's the good news, the
afghans don't want to be ruled by the taliban. we double training capacity since december 2009. there will be 305,000 afghans under arms. we're making great progress. 6,000 people a month are joining the afghan army. in september 20099 it was 800. we're on track to withdraw. >> are you fearful there's an isolationist streak now running through the republican party? >> yes. i'm fearful -- >> it's not war-weariness, is not a practical response to a decade of war? >> it's not an understanding of what's going on in afghanistan or the consequences of losing. are we at war with who? we're at war with radical islam. that is now in afghanistan. general petraeus put the enemy on their heels. we are-k bring some troops home this summer. by 20 1 16 if we do this right, five years from now, we can have troops in afghanistan and iraq the same number south korea. if we accelerate withdraw
because we're war-weary, who's lose this war. >> senator durbin, there is a split based on my reporting between the military and some republicans and even some of the thinking within the white house about how to draw down this summer. what n your mind, is an appropriate and sizeable withdrawal from afghanistan? you were very clear in a letter this week saying, after bin laden, after the diminishment of al qaeda in afghanistan, it is time to make a sizeable withdraw. >> yes. senator merkley circulated that letter and i believe 26 or 27 signed that letter to the president. when i voted ten years ago against the invasion of iraq, there were 23 of us. i voted for the invasion of afghanistan. to go after those responsible for 9/11. i didn't vote for the longest war in american history. i didn't vote for 100,000 troops ten years later in afghanistan. and the notion that somehow we're going to build this into some nation that's a democracy. what we need to do is to have enough security on the ground in afghanistan that we can bring our troops home.
the president made that promise. we should keep that promise. bring these troops home and let the afghans deal with the future of their country. the united states cannot literally go from one country to another around the world with all the instability and say ultimately our men and women in uniform will put their lives on the line for the stability of every nation in transition. >> senators, thank you both very much. >> thank you. coming up, decision 2012, the campaign heating up. now after two debates for the republicans, our new nbc news/wall street journal poll out this weeks shows republicans really think the current field is maybe not everything it could be. what are those views and how will democrats now refocus their agenda after the weiner scandal? plus, moammar gadhafi still in power, as we've been talking about, in libya despite persistent air strikes. what is the engame? richard engel just back from the region is here with us in studio, a rare appearance. he'll join our roundtable with
coming up, has mitt romney established himself as the front-runner for the gop nomination? the roundtable is here to weigh in on the 2012 news, plus the latest developments in the mideast. we've got richard engel here, here from the middle east. chuck todd, doris kearns goodwin, mayor antonio villaraigosa and paul gigot. they're coming up next.
editor for the "wall street journal," paul gigot is here. presidential historian doris kearns goodwin, and last but not least, my hometown mayor, and i just pronounced your name wrong, which is really embarrassing. the mayor of los angeles, antonio villaraigosa, for his first appearance here on "meet the press." villaraigosa was elected in may of 2005 after serving in the california state assembly and l.a. city council. now in his second term. he'll be sworn in tomorrow as president of the u.s. conference of mayors in baltimore. and that role, you will represent an organization of more than 1,200 mayors and speak out on policy issues impacting cities across the country, and indeed, some of the big national issues as well. mr. mayor, welcome to "meet the press." and of course, i may pin you down on what is going to happen to our los angeles dodgers in terms of future ownership, because there's more than a few very interted parties here at the table. but we are going to get to that in a few minutes. welcome to everybody. let's talk politics. let's talk about the race for 2012 and the republican field. here is our board of who's in right now, and a couple of notes you pay attention to there. jon huntsman is going to announce on tuesday.
and of cose, michele bachmann, who had a strong debate, has filed papers this past week to get into the race. she'll be doing more of that this coming week. and this is how the field now looks. if you look at our latest nbc news/"wall street journal" polling, mitt romney's still on top, sarah palin, herman cain at 12%. and excuse me, let's just go back to that previous board, if we can do it. i glossed over it and i shouldn't have, because you've got those who are undeclared or undecided. palin is the perpetual one that we speculate about, giuliani, and rick perry creating a lot of buzz. we'll talk about that in a minute. and even john bolton, who doesn't think they're talking enough about foreign policy. you heard that debate a moment ago with lindsey graham. so, chuck todd, there's a lot on the table. where are we at the end of this week on the republican side? >> well, first, i'm going to stick with the baseball theme, and that is, i think the focus is on the player to be named later at this point, because of the people running right now, mitt romney is not just a front-runner, i think he's a very solid front-runner, when you look at all of the things that matter to being a front-runner. right now, all of the candidates
chasing him seem to be stepping on themselves. tim pawlenty had a particularly bad week. michele bachmann doesn't seem as if she can get the nomination. you can see how she can get very, very strong, and in the end, the mitt romney folks love the idea of it being michele bachma bachmann. but the idea of the player to be named later, specifically rick perry. i think when you look at how this week played out, as good of a week as mitt romney had as being a front-runner, you're seeing it in our own poll, you're seeing it in other polls. rick perry had a pretty good week, too, because of two things -- one, the tim pawlenty flubs, and two, the fact that there does seem to be this vacuum here of the antiestablishment wing of the party who's not enthused about who they want. >> and tim pawlenty baggage in a bit, but paul gigot, let me ask you this. the buzz about rick perry. he spoke this weekend at a gathering of republicans down in new orleans. here's a portion of what he said. >> let's speak with pride about our morals and our values and redouble our effort to elect more conservative republicans.
let's stop this american downward spiral! >> here's a republican saying let's talk about social issues, let's talk about moral values. he sees that there's a space here for a social conservative candidate in the race. >> but his trump issue will be jobs. >> right. >> the dallas fed has recently had -- federal reserve recently had a study showing that texas is creating 40%, nearly 40% of all the new jobs since the recession ended. that's going to be his big selling point if he gets in. and yes, he's going to talk about the social issues, but there's plenty of other candidates who are talking about that. i think if he gets in, he'll say i'm a governor, i've been in for a decade, i've accomplished a lot. the texas economy is growing where the u.s. economy is kind of stalling. so, what's going to happen is he's best at theme. the question i have for perry is, is the country, particularly those northern suburbs, ready for another texan after eight years of george bush? >> it's interesting, if you look at the debate this week, some of the big headlines -- we'll put them on the screen -- showed a
theme, focus on obama and the economy, targeting the president in the debate, target obama, hit the president on the economy and on and on it goes. this was -- let's not disagree with each other, let's focus on the president's performance on the economy. >> and in a certain sense, that's what pawlenty got lambasted for, because he was supposed to have taken on romney on obama care. i think some of these things, when we say at the beginning, oh, they've undone themselves, we forget how early it is. i remember this time in '07, mccain was in the wilderness, his campaign was imploding. so, we've got a long way to go. the problem with pawlenty focusing on obama and not focusing on romney at that time was, then you have to ask, if he couldn't stand up to romney: he stand up to obama? when you look at the last -- >> just a second, because in the debate, he decides not to take him on on health care in massachusetts, which he had done in an interview. then he came on fox news this week and said, hey, i made a mistake. he called romney a co-conspirator with president obama on health care. this is what he said to fox
news. >> i should have been much more clear during the debate, shawn. i don't think we can have a nominee that was involved in the development and construction of obama care and then continues to defend it. >> yeah? >> i think the one thing romney did well in that debate, he has an answer, finally, for the obama care thing by saying i did it in my state. there are problems in my state. he should have come and asked me what worked what didn't work. he was prepared for this in a way that he wasn't prepared four years ago. it really helps to have run for the presidency once before. it's a whole different planet. we were talking about planets before, and he's learned. >> listening to the clips you played earlier by mitt romney, there was one thing that jumped out at me that implied a specific preparation. you played the clip earlier. he said only the afghanis can decide their political future. that's a concept i think everyone would agree with. the problem is, the people are not called afghanis. they're called afghans. so, if you're the afghani's the currency. so, if you're talking about what
the foreign policy should be for a foreign nation, you should know what the people are called. >> i want to come back on this foreign policy point, but i want to hear from the mayor as well. what is your take? here you are in a big democratic state, in a city that is dealing with all the major issues, from the economy to education reform. how do you see the way the debate is shaping up on the republican side? >> well, i think the term was used, now twice, it feels like these people are on another planet. i mean, the fact is, america's out of work. too many people haven't been able to get back into the workplace. we're not doing enough to train those new workers. we're cutting infrastructure and transportation. and america's cities, we're saying that america needs to focus at home again, and this issue of the war in afghanistan, libya, iraq, is now an issue that's front and center of the
debate in our cities. >> well, and you even talked about this in the gathering of mayors. we'll put it on the screen. "the new york times" reported on a resolution that you're talking about. mayors see end of wars as a fix for struggling cities. "when downturn-weary mayors from around the country gathered friday for the annual meeting of the united states conference of mayors, they introduced a resolution calling for the speedy end of wars in iraq and afghan began stan and calling on congress for funding for the cost of urgent needs." >> you see democrats who don't want to address entitlements and medicare and social security. you have republicans who say that defense spending is off the table. so, what's left? it's infrastructure, it's transportation, it's education, it's public health, it's eviscerating medicaid and the safety net. and you know, we actually have to represent these people. we don't live in the bubble of the beltway. and i think for many of us, although we're about 80%
democrat, we're also very practical. and so, the issue of pension reform is an issue that almost all of us have embraced. the issue of education reform, seniority and tenure, we're tackling these tough issues. and so, we find, and i find that the debate right now among the republicans is so out of touch with everyday people who live on main street. >> let me get an aspect of that, richard, in terms of how the rest of the world is watching this campaign develop and this internal fight on the republican side about afghanistan, about the future of america's involvement in the rest of the world, whether it's libya or afghanistan. there's real war-weariness here. >> there certainly is, and i think that's understandable. i mean, ten years the u.s. has been engaged in two major land wars in afghanistan and iraq. but i think this debate about libya, for example -- i just came from libya before i came here, and the fact of the matter is the war in libya right now is not very serious.
nato is not doing a terribly good job. the rebels need a lot more help. the bombing campaign in tripoli barely exists. every once in a while, there's a few bombs on mostly empty compods and people go about their lives more or less unaffected. it's not the kind of thing that's going to drive gadhafi from power. and a lot of european nations who are now trying to lead this fight and are struggling to do it are looking at this debate in the united states to end the u.s. support for nato. if the u.s. ended its support for nato in libya, nato really is dead, and all of these european allies, particularly italy, who supported the united states in iraq, which they had no interest in, would say, well, why isn't the united states supporting us now in libya, which is an important mission for europe? >> paul, how do you see this debate within the republican party? i mean, lindsey graham couldn't have been stronger saying, look, you're going to start taking the president on the left on foreign policy? that's not going to go well in
the republican party. >> there's war-weariness, which is understandable, but i also think and regret to say there is political opportunism here. you have a democrat in the white house. this is not what republicans would have been saying, most of them, nearly all of them, if george w. bush were still in the white house. so, the question that i think is fair to ask of michele bachmann, who voted for the dennis kucinich resolution to cut off funds within 15 days for libya -- if you're running to be commander in chief, all right, you really want a candidate to invite congress to micromanage and be able to cut off your use of force if you become president? that's not a very thoughtful position. yes, it is what barack obama did when he was a candidate, but now you can see it's hurting him as he's president. so, i think there's some real contradictions here from some of the republican candidates, and you see the divide between the mccain/lindsey graham wing and some of the more grassroots, and i would even say somewhat isolationist element of the republican party. >> interesting, doris, though on this question of leadership around the world. robert gates, he's the departing secretary of defense, he's been
giving interviews and he gave one to "newsweek" and has been outspoken about his views, whether about the wars or how congress is behaving. we'll put a portion of it up on the screen, the interview he gave, and it's quite interesting. he said "i've spent my entire adult life with the united states as a superpower and one that had no compunction about spending what it took to sustain that position. it didn't have to look over its shoulder because our economy was so strong. this is a different time. to tell you the truth, that's one of my many reasons for me it's time to retire because i can't imagine being part of a government that's being forced to dramatically scale back our engagement with the rest of the world. congress is all over the place and the republicans are a perfect example. i think there is no consensus on a role in the world." that's a very interesting statement. >> and it comes with such credibility because he's conducted himself so incredibly well during his tenure as secretary. i mean, i think we are confused right now. i mean, i think the problem with libya right now is we should be debating exactly what richard said, what should we be doing there substantively? instead, we're debating
president versus congress and who -- it's going to be a dispute. the constitution deliberately made it that way. the president's commander in chief, but congress can declare war, so we'll have these fights forever. >> i think we'll see more going forward because small wars after this decade will become the future, drone wars, little wars like libya. >> there was an editorial in "the washington post," because he was part of a commission that i was a historical adviser for on war powers, arguing that the war powers act is unconstitutional. it needs to be repealed. what we need to replace it with is a war consultation act, where before you go to one of these things, you go to the congress. you should go to the congress. it helps you communicate with the country. but with something like bin laden, you don't because it's secrecy. >> the problem is, what are we doing? if the rebels take power, what does that look like and how long does gadhafi stay? >> a couple things. the one thing, every president believes the war powers act is unconstitutional. >> right. >> and if you notice, in the various ways they word the legal memos, bob bower, the white
house counsel, specific about saying certain things. they're consistent with the idea of the war powers act, because most presidents don't want to acknowledge. but let's also talk about why this is also a problem. the president has done poor personal politics on selling libya, period, okay? when you've got jim webb out there, who would be a national security democrat, spend a little time with him, explain him the mission. dick lugar, republican, spend a little time with him, explain the mission. he's not done the personal politics of this. joe biden, it's usually outsourced to joe biden, the way this white house works. he's been in the middle of the debt negotiations in this whole debt commission. so, i think yes, you have congress all over the place, yes, there's all these issues with the republican party inside congress right now, and yes, i do think there's some opportunism. the president hasn't made a good faith effort at just good, old-fashioned back-slapping -- >> not only within congress, but to the american public. i mean, he doesn't want to talk about afghanistan or libya, because i think they feel that in the white house, he needs to focus only on domestic issues.
there's only down side on foreign policy, but if you're going to send american forces into battle, you have to make the sale. >> all right. i'm going to take a break here. couple things i want to do when we come back, talk about the final act in this weiner scandal, more about the economy and how that is going to shape the debate for the presidency, and more about the republican approach to it all. more from our roundtable right after thiyt . co
we're back now with more from our roundtable. doris, big story still this week, anthony weiner. he did finally resign. one of the questions that comes up is why it is some politicians can have sex scandals they can survive, and yet, he couldn't? what happened here? >> i think a couple things happened. one thing was the timing of it. for the democrats, it was disastrous. they were just making momentum on the fact that they had won the special election for yet another congressman who had to resign because of an inappropriate thing on the internet, and they felt he distracted them from that news. so they were putting pressure on them. secondly, he lied to his colleagues, to the country, to the press. thirdly, i think the saturation of the media today is such that he must have felt like a mountain was falling on him. the only way to relieve that pressure was to get out. >> and chuck, he just didn't have the support. he called nancy pelosi and said, look at my polling, it's still holding up in my district. and she said take that as a sign
that you can bow out gracely. >> well, it's a message that some members of congress are saying it's good to have friends. >> yeah. >> he found out he really didn't have friends in sort of the way he might butt into a press conference or do some things, clearly irritated nancy pelosi over the years. nobody felt the need to go out there. what i didn't understand is why he felt having yet another press conference, going in front of the cameras one more time was a good idea. it seemed like it only fed the worst parts of this scandal. y you're right about the media saturation. and by the way, i don't think in this environment, anybody -- i don't think david vitter would have survived in this environment. >> in this environment. what's sad about it, though, is we waste so much time in our political arena. we spent three weeks on weiner -- >> now i know why osama bin laden had his messages hand-delivered. >> right. >> but i mean, three weeks on weiner, three weeks on the birth certificate. we've got serious problems, as you were saying, and we're not focusing on them. >> mayor, let me turn to that, on the economy specifically, because again, front-line mayor dealing with these problems. here's the cover of "newsweek,"
and it's former president clinton, who lo and behold, has a few things to say about the economy. "14 ways to save america's jobs," and it's still the economy, stupid, it says inside. can you make a case for democratic governance given the economic woes of this country that have persisted under president obama? >> without question, but let me say something about the three weeks of scandal that you referred to. for most of us watching that circus and the amount of time and air that it consumed, again, it feels like you're on another planet. people are losing their homes due to foreclosure. people are out of a job in double-digit numbers. according to our metro economies report, we're not going to get back to where we need to be for another ten years in some cities. and so, yes, i think you can make a case that with republicans primarily
threatening to default, and what that would mean to the economy, what it would mean to an increase in unemployment, i think you could say that most of -- when bush inherited a surplus, and over an eight-year period of time took us to the highest deficits and debt in our history, you've got to say, call it like you see it, and the republicans certainly have put us here. >> but look, you can't keep blaming bush. i mean, there are stubborn figures. >> yeah, i don't think it worked in 2010 very well and i don't think it's going to work in 2012 either. president obama owns this economy. and yes, he can go and try to say, well, i inherited a mess, and even some of the candidates would say, republicans will concede, yes, you did. but the question is, did you make it better or worse? and if unemployment a year from now is 9.1% or even 8.5%, and the deficit is still a trillion dollars and you see growth at 2%, the president's going to
have a very hard time winning re-election. >> you know, david, there's something bigger that i've found from our poll that i think we're all missing here, which is you can see the collective frustration of the american public again at washington. congress hit its low that it hasn't hit since march 2010, the health care month. you have people saying they want government to "do more," but at the same time, 60% are saying will you please do something about this debt and deficit mess? we get it on the economy. they concede that obama inherited this mess. basically, the message they're sending is just do something. and the worst thing for both parties will be some sort of gridlock. and then look at other countries and how they've handled that. japan has gone through -- they go through a prime minister every six months because of a public frustration with the government's inability to just solve the problem. >> and you know, richard, from your vantage point, covering much of the world, the businessmen i talk to in this country, who of course, are traveling around the world, say you go to a country like china, they're not talking about
america as much as they may be talking about certain european countries. that notion of american decline or a diminishing role in the world is something that stems from an inability of our political system to meet the challenges we face. >> they talk about the united states in terms of its military primarily, not necessarily its economy. people aren't rushing here to do business. it's become difficult, primarily coming from the arab world, it's thoughts of as have unfriendly place. it's hard to get visas. you get hassled if you come here. and they think of us in terms of the u.s. military, which is why it's an organization that still works and it's still an uncredibly unique capability, which is why i'm finding that comment that you played earlier from secretary gates so incredibly chilling, that he's basically saying our economy is so bad right now that we are not in a position, and our political leadership is so fractured that we're not in a position to lead the world any longer and i don't want to be part of that. and that's frightening. >> doris, we showed the pictures from greece. we can show them again.
demonstrations in the streets as a result of draconian cuts being made by the government there. the same question i asked to senator graham, are we being too aggressive about tackling deficit at a point when the economy still needs so much help? >> absolutely. i mean, it seems to me, the rational answer right now, we've got to get the economy to grow and then get some problems, which we agree on both sides, that we will have target cutting the deficit. most economists will agree on that, but the deficit, it's the same it became with perot, it's the same lady in the closet. we've got to deal with that, but you have to deal with the economy first, get it going, then make promises about getting it down. >> even house republican leaders will say even the zeal to cut the debt is hurting our ability to have a jobs agenda. some positive ideas as to how we actually get people back to work? >> there is a mentality that comes across and i think that's the problem. but i think philosophically from an economic policy point of view, if you cut spending, you're going to help the economy, in my view, because
every dollar the government spends is a dollar taken out of the private sector, which is the only place, the only place you're going to drive growth. but the problem for the republicans is a little too much talk about budget balancing and not enough talk about growth and jobs and getting growth back up to 3% and 4%. >> who's hiring -- >> or investment in infrastructure or investment in education or investment in workforce development. i mean, there is no conversation from that side of the aisle. and don't get me wrong, i'm not here to defend democrats. i think your point was a good one. people are tired of the gridlock, the partisanship, the polarization, the shrill debate. i mean, we're excited that the president and the speaker are on some, you know, golf tournament date. you know, the fact of the matter is, they should be talking on a regular basis, and they're not talking. all they're doing is screaming at one another. >> you talk about money. the u.s. spent, fighting this global war on terrorism -- i think which is a terrible
misnomer, it's like a war on fear or something like that and i think in many ways it has been a war of fear -- but the united states spent at least $1 trillion on this for the last decade, and we've become very good at killing bearded men in waziristan, but there are trade-offs. china owns a tremendous amount of our currency and we've focused on other -- ignored other national priorities, so. >> all right, we're going to get a break in here. we'll come back with our final segment, "trends and takeaways," a look at what was said today and a look at the coming week. plus the hot stories trending this morning.
responding to the debate this week in new hampshire. said earlier on this program the following. >> if you think the pathway to the gop nomination in 2012 is to get to barack obama's left on libya, afghanistan and iraq, you're going to meet a lot of headwinds. this is not a war of afghan independence, from my point of view. this is the center of gravity against the war on terror. >> paul gigot, quickly, where are the cross currents in the republican party? does graham win out or does the tea party, the focus on the debt and spending ultimately win the day, which means more war-weariness? >> i think probably graham wins out in the end just because i think that the tradition -- the moderate tradition of the republican party tends to be a strong military party, and that tradition will be hard to beat. to really get an isolationist trend in the gop, you've got to go back to the '50s, before eisenhower, or back to, well, woodrow wilson. so, i think in the end, graham will win out, particularly if
the president starts to make the sale on libya and afghanistan. >> foreign policy is still on the top three on our "political trend" tracker. the top stories on the big political websites that we'll put up on our screen, our "political trend tracker" showing you it's rick perry at number one getting buzz from this weekend's gathering of republicans. the obama/boehner golf tournament. these are stories still gaining attention. libya and the war powers debate. losing a little bit of steam in terms of people focusing on it, but it's still in that top three. now, chuck todd, to you, as we look ahead on the political schedule not just for this week, but really a summer of intense campaigning, what are you watching out for? >> there's two dates that i'm watching in particular. one is july 15th. that is the fund-raising deadline. we'll find out, rub hits the road on money. how much did mitt romney raise? somebody hinting from his team that he could get to $40 million or $50 million, a very bushlike number when bush was running in
1999. what is tim pawlenty's number? did michele bachmann out-raise him? that will send a message to rick perry. if romney has a big financial lead, perry may bow out. and then i would say august 6th is rick perry's national day of prayer that he's hosting. reliant stadium, home of the houston texans in houston. that will tell us. he's not going to announce before that date, i've been told by advisers he doesn't want to politicize that thing, but it's going to tell you, this is the guy that can speak to the tea party wing, the social conservative wing, talk jobs, as paul mentioned. he can put together too late for that stool. and then finally, i think the iowa straw poll is going to tell us whether tim pawlenty's campaign is strong enough. >> interesting. talking about campaigns, we noticed something on twitter for today from president obama, and specifically, from his campaign for next year. on their campaign logo, they've made it clear, as we've seen today, from barack obama it says "welcome to a new @barackobama
staff will manage this count. tweets from the president will be signed "bo," so you know they're coming from him." >> the modern world. >> the modern world. >> i would think that -- >> twitter. >> we're going to leave it there. thank you all very much for the discussion today. a happy father's day to mine and to yours. we'll see you next week. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press."