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tv   Face the Nation  CBS  May 15, 2016 8:30am-9:31am PDT

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>> dickerson: today on "face the nation" the republican party becomes the party of trump. and the tent goes up on general election circus. with the nomination locked up, donald trump went to washington this week to make peace with the republicans he's cam paned against. but by friday, trump was bombarded with blasts from the past, he denied reports that he's posed as his own spokesman in the 1990s. >> what is your name again? >> john miller. dickerson: his refusal to release his tax returns gave hillary clinton a new line of attack. >> my husband and i have released 33 years of tax returns. >> dickerson: we'll talk about efforts unify the party with the head of the republican national party. and three house republicans. and what should we look for in a president.
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we'll ask robert gates who served eight of them. all ahead on "face the nation." captioning sponsored by cbs good morning welcome to face the make i'm john dickerson. chairman of the republican national committee, reince priebus joins us now. mr. chairman i'd throwing ask you about report that donald trump in the 190s served as his own spokesman under another name. what do you make of that? >> it's a little bit odd, but i would just tell you that i think of all the things facing this country right now and after being through this primary for a year i can assure you that that particular issue is not going to move the electorate. people are comparing hillary clinton, career politician, someone who has made millions of dollars on politics, guy who has never run for public office, a business guy, who is a total outsider that is going to cause an earthquake in washington, that's really the issue that is
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on the ballot. all those other stories, lots of stories, my guess is it's not going to move the electorate. >> dickerson: now that we are looking at general electorate, he's a total outsider, very new but isn't that the point, since he's unknown, these kinds of stories are ones that people key on and i guess, in this case, it's not so much the impersonation that this week he denied it though in the past, on the "today" show he said it wasn't him but in the past he said it was. >> well, look, like i said, i think the issues that are facing washington, who is going to bring more efficient, accountable, effective government here. i don't think the electorate is going to look whether or not someone was calling a reporter 30 years ago and it was them or wasn't them, as the issue that they're deciding in 24 campaign. donald trump has effectively carved out a niche for himself which is i'm the guy that's
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going to turn this place upside down. people believe that. they don't believe that hillary clinton -- by the way, you got to be careful who throws stones in glass houses because hillary clinton can't throw any. she is not going anywhere in that regard. it's going to come down to that issue, who is going to be the change agent. not going to be hillary clinton. >> dickerson: one of the ways in the past have evaluated new candidates on the scene looked at their tax returns, donald trump said that he doesn't think people have right to see his tax returns. in the past that was kind of the standard. do you that i shouldn't be the standard any more whether we should look at a candidate's past tax returns? >> i wouldn't be surprise understand people don't care. i think one thing for sure. donald trump has rewritten the original play book in toll politics. i don't know if anyone else could have pulled off what he's pulled off over the past year. but just sort of traditional review and analysis of individual candidates has not
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applied to donald trump. i think it's because he's presented himself as something bigger than just the traditional analysis. and people are angry, people want something done right this second. and donald trump has effectively represented that position. whether or not his taxes are disclosed or not something i don't think is going to move the electorate. >> dickerson: the yes is, whether political success, when bill clinton was successful in politics lot of republicans said that shouldn't change the standard. he should be judged on the old fashioned standard. create relativism that changes our standard. >> it's a good point. but look at bill clinton he served for eight years. he's still out there running around, people are still coming and cheering them on. i think that the real analysis has to be at least from my standpoint in the moment, what
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is exactly we have to do as party to make sure that number one, we have -- we're try to our party, we're true to our platform and that the party exists as it is today in the future. and the fact that we want to win in november. donald trump someone who has been winning more votes in the primary than any republican nominee in the history of our primary. so, i look what the voters are saying, john. voters are saying i like what i'm hearing. >> dickerson: there's talk of third party, mitt romney, bill kristol, trying to put one together, can they stop that? >> well, i don't -- i've heard that actually isn't looking at that. i'm not sure about bill kristol. it's a suicide mission because you're not only changing and throwing out eight years of the white house but also throwing out potential leap generations on the supreme court. we could have up to three justices change over in the next eight years. and this is a suicide mission,
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it is not right. and i think what people should do take the paul ryan approach to work with donald trump and find out whether or not there's common ground and whether there can be assurances on the supreme court and shows sorts of things to make sure that our future is secure down the line as opposed to blowing everything up. >> dickerson: paul ryan differs with mr. trump on taxes, trade, three times during the campaign he came out and questioned his tone on issues from the muslim ban on immigration to his reluctance to denounce white supremacists, what is the basis of unity? >> they agree on far more than they disagree. they agree on various agenda items. paul ryan's agenda, agree on supreme skort. they agree on the platform of the republican party. they agree on abortion. i think you've got about 80% overlap and you see donald trump
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this week nuance a little bit on some of those positions that you've just outlined. so, i think we're going to get there. i think there's plenty of common ground. when the choice is hillary clinton or someone who has made a career of lying and skirting the issues and you look at the e-mails, the benghazi, the clinton foundation, and guy who has never run for office and might have some stories out there that may make interesting news. in the end people will choose person that will cause an earthquake in washington and get something done over hillary clinton. >> dickerson: all right, chairman reince priebus, thanks for being with us. >> you bet, john. dickerson: for more on the relationship between republican party and donald trump we're joined by three republican members of congress, representative marcia blackburn is in nashville, this morning. peter king is on long island and first house member to support
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donald trump representative chris collins. other that he's not hillary clinton that specifically about donald trump that republicans should unify around? >> firstful all he's a chief executor. not career politics. we need someone coming out of the private sector, certainly someone who has been a chief executive. we've seen what happened with legislator, barack obama, l imperial presidency the last seven and half years. the reason i through my weight behind donald trump 11 weeks ago when i was was ted cruz, marco rubio he was the only chief executive. that is very important attribute with everything this nation is facing. that's what drove me there with his issues on trade, we've been in the trade war for 20 years it's going to continue other countries will try to continue to steal our jobs. we've got to have a president who is going to stand up, bring those jobs back, let's started talking about fair and balanced
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trade not this free trade nonsense like nasa. >> representative king, makes good point about executive experience and executive role of the president there's no where that is more important than on national security decisions. president makes call, sometimes congress doesn't even get a say. that was the area where you had most criticism and skepticism about donald trump. on national security where it's so important, what made you come to support him? >> i'm supporting the nominee of the party but i still have real questions with him as far as national security. i don't think his asian policy is coherent. he want to get in trade war how that coincides. if he wants to have leverage over china how can he talk about taking troops out of japan and corey california realize that would weaken our leverage against china. very concerned about this romance he seems to have with putin and as far as stating that
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he wants russia take care of what is happening in syria that's barack obama's policy a. lot about donald trump what i like. he's brought in blue collar reagan democrats which we lost over the years. there's real chance, i want him to make his policy more coherent. i'm endorsing him, going to vote for him. before he i can actively campaign i have too see much more on foreign policy. >> dickerson: in picking up on that that donald trump is going to change from some of the things he said, chairman priebus said he's already nuancing or that was his word, his position, that was republican politics using the word nuance, wanted people who stood on their principles, what is your view of donald trump and where he was in the primary how he might change in the general election? >> i think beginning to see donald trump has listened to the american people. and he has shown that he has
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heard them. they like the way he has listened and responded. he's bringing that to capitol hill. i quite frankly am encouraged he's trying to find common ground. what legislation that you have out there that you've been working on that we can move forward together. i think that is a thought. a wonderful opportunity for us and an opportunity for the american people. go fog see very aggressive legislative agenda, i look forward to a first hundred days of the president trump administration. when we can roll back some of the this regulation that people complain about every day. when we can take the stranglehold off of some of our small businesses and allow them to move forward and push forward with innovation and job creation which is certainly what they're going to see. it's just driving people crazy.
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>> dickerson: let me ask you congressman collins about other positions that donald trump mentioned in the primary. immediate deportation of those who are here illegally are those policies you support? >> no, john, those aren't policies i support. but as we have seen with mr. trump, who thing coming back to one of the other answers, what has never changed with donald trump he's going to secure the border, bring our jobs back, keep the economy growing and keep our nation safe and defeat isis. he's been talking about that for years, he is reaching out to congress, reaching out to our committee chair. have of our committee chairman now endorsed mr. trump. he's asking for their input on tax reform. he's asking their input on transportation and infrastructure. that's what a chief executive does, sets the top line vision, hires great cabinet, brings in the experts. they argue around a table then come to decisions. you're just now seeing donald
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trump the nominee moving in to the policy area. so, as he ran for the nomination, that's not to say that he did anything other than the 30,000 foot level. i don't think that he's nuancing it, he's just now putting his team together. >> dickerson: representative king, i want to ask you political question now which is about, women voters. do you think that donald trump that he has issue that he has to fix with women voters? >> i think the issue is there. i don't know if hillary clinton is the person to raise it. donald trump is very good spokesman, he's going to go out there make his case. if there are any particular issues with women he'll answer them. overall i think what the average woman or man, all americans, they are concerned about security. i was talking to a woman yesterday who is active in the republican politics for years, her view was, whether or not she likes or dislikes donald trump she's concerned about her kids staying alive. she is concerned about security,
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is donald trump is the guy to stand up. i i think if he can show women and men, especially suburban mothers that he's going to defend us, keep us strong, that that's what they're most concerned about. the economy, jobs, but also security and kids are not killed by terrorists. >> dickerson: i want to ask you about paul ryan, previous speaker was getting lot of brief for not standing up and sticking to principle. paul ryan says he has issues with donald trump at the moment, doesn't want to come to own filed position. shouldn't he be praised for that for standing on principle? >> i think you're going to see paul ryan move very quickly toward working with donald trump and unifying the republican party. quite frankly, john, i think we're going to have the most dynamic campaign this fall that we have had in decades.
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you have millions of new voters that have come to the republican party. you have people who are saying, let's build a bigger tent, bring people in, let's address these problems. as peter said national security, chris said, jobs and economic security i'll add third one, retirement security. those are three top issues that we're hearing about. it doesn't matter if it's male or female. what they know is hillary clinton is a lying, cheatin', stealing type woman what they got in donald trump is a can-do man who says, we're going to get in behind and fix it. don't know exactly how but great team and get it done: >> dickerson: all right. we'll have to end it there. thanks to all of you. we'll be back in a moment.
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asking him forehis thoughts on donald trump.
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>> well, i have some real issues with things he said about national security policy. and some concerns. i think there's some contradictions. you can't have a trade war with china then turn around ask them to help you on north korea. i have no idea what his policy would be in terms of dealing with isis. i worry a little bit about his admiration for vladimir putin. >> dickerson: you served eight presidents, are these the kind of reservations -- can they can fixed with a good staff? >> their policy positions they can always change. i've seen presidents do that more than once. i guess one of the things that makes it challenging for me is that he seems to think that he has all the answers. and that he doesn't need any advice from staff or anybody else. and that he knows more about these things than anybody else.
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and doesn't really people the need to surround himself with informed advisors. i work for some very different presidents of those eight. people would say, how could you work for both barack obama and george w. bush. i remind them, well, i worked for jimmy carter and ronald reagan. the difference is, each one of those presidents as strong minded as each of them was, understood he did not have all the answers. surrounded himself with experienced, thoughtful people who would give good advice and they were willing to listen. they would often make their own independent judgments. often would act contrary to the advice they were receiving. but nonetheless they only acted after they had listened to different points of view then had the opportunity to make up their minds. i think you would have to -- one
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would have to show between now and the election it seems to me that you were willing to do that, willing to listen to people. willing to adjust your positions to give any sense of confidence that -- i come at this from the nation natural security standpoint. i came to this interview from commissioning 18 brand new second lieutenants coming out of rotc. i think about all those young people in the military and who is going to be in charge of them. who is going to be in position to give them orders. and so i want to see some evidence that a person can be trusted with the lives of those young people. >> dickerson: would you serve him if he asked? >> i learned a long time ago to never say never. i can say that would be
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inconceivable to me. let's just say i stopped work on my resume. >> dickerson: let's say you were young buck of 63, would you -- would it be administration you could see yourself serving? >> i think there would have to be a conversation with the candidate to see, when president elect obama asked me to stay on, we did something very unusual. we had this secret meeting in the firehouse at reagan airport in washington. and i had sent him ten questions. beginning with, why do you think you can trust me? and what are your positions on afghanistan and defense budget, who is the rest of the team going to be? no matter what age i might be, those were the questions -- those are questions that i think would have to be asked. >> dickerson: lot more of our conversation with secretary gates later in the broadcast. we'll be right back with our
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>> it's true, i'll telling you. >> mr. trump is the real life inspiration for "iron man." who am any i'm his publicist, joey pepperoni. no, i'm not donald trump in disguise. this is just what classy people sound like. >> dickerson: that's not donald trump or even john miller or joey pepperoni that is daryl from saturday night life. joining us is "usa today's" washington bureau chief, susan page. and cbs news political analyst jamelle bouie. white house correspondent, julie pace and "washington post" columnist michael gerson. susan, start with you. chairman priebus right that this
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question of impersonating a spokesperson the first little bump in the general election is chairman priebus right that is going by the wayside? >> i think the reality that he was impersonating someone else, himself is not really -- 25 years ago not important. fact that he's now denying it when on face just seems to be true. is perhaps an issue not for people who support him i think it's been clear through these primaries, people will support no matter what. in effort to expand the electorate that supports him in general election it's probably one of those things that makes people think, who is this man, can i trust him? can i trust him to be commander in chief. not a big deal but maybe part of case that could be made against him by his opponents. >> michael, what do you make of chairman priebus saying the voters like donald trump and so these questions about him whether it's taxes or any of
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this other stuff. >> one step away defense. he's not actually defending, he's saying extraordinary phenomenon this guy is. that is another position. this is case where he's deceiving people, i think. but never have cost to that, it's encouraged him over time. he gets away with it. >> dickerson: what do you think, the clinton campaign tried to make lot of tax returns that -- set up own e-mail server, fbi looking whether there was any criminal activity associated with that. does she really want to have a gig frank talk about transparency. >> as far as the typical nominee. just wrong approach for clinton campaign to take. if some of the rhetoric coming from the clip concampaign is true that these avenues of attack are not helpful.
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because trump's argue; i'm a sleezy guy, probably a little dishonest but what you need in the white house is someone who is she see and dishonest for you. but never going to be for you. and he is -- conjuring the worse impulse that americans have for no other reason but his personal gain. going of a after him on tax returns an transparency just doesn't do that. elizabeth warren seems to figure out how to do it. the clinton campaigns needs to huddle with her about making those kinds of attacks. >> dickerson: we'll pause there. we'll step away for commercial we'll have great deal more with our panel all the week's news, stick with us. safety doesn't come in a box. it's not a banner that goes on a wall. it's not something you do now and then.
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>> dickerson: some of our cbs stations are leaving us now. most of you we'll be right back with our political panel and conversation with former defense secretary robert gates about what makes a good president.
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man 1: you're new. man 2: i am. woman: ex-military? man 2: four tours. woman: you worked with computers? man 2: that's classified, ma'am. man 1: but you're job was network security? man 2: that's classified, sir. woman: let's cut to the chase, here... man 1: what's you're assessment of our security? man 2: [ gasps ] porous. woman: porous? man 2: the old solutions aren't working. man 2: the world has changed. man 1: meaning? man 2: it's not just security. it's defense. it's not just security. it's defense. bae systems.
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>> dickerson: welcome back. we're back with susan page of "usa today." jamelle bouie from slate. "washington post" michael gers gerson. julie pace, this is the week that donald trump met with paul ryan, where do things stapped in the republican unity? >> lot of talk about unity that was the word of the week at this point it seems to be bit of superficial unity because beneath the surface there continue to be huge differences between the paul ryan wing of the republican party and what now is the donald trump wing of the republican party. but i think the fact that trump came to washington, had this closed door meeting with ryan and got the speak tore speak quite warmly about him was an accomplishment. it showed that there is an
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effort underway on capitol hill to have lawmakers unify around trump. even a week ago that was big open question. i think we now see the direction that this is headed. >> dickerson: give me your take on this in terms of what the party is going through. is this a situation where all parties a little messy getting unified. they all come together and row in the same direction is that what we have here? >> i think has laid predicate for event surrender on this. i think that trump is benefitting from the polarization in america. lot of people thought they were never trump, very much never hillary clinton in the party. then short term appeal on supreme court that all makes sense. but there's long-term problem with having trump as your nominee: republicans have problems with immigrants. problems with women, you look at
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the "new york times" story, this is a whole second front in the war on women that he represents. and so, i think that there are short term calculation, then huge long term risks for the pear. to confirm some of the stereotypes. that could take decades to get beyond. >> which is what you see that paul ryan is struggling with, i think. in the short term the republican speaker is not going to endorse the republican candidate for president. i don't think that's realistic. you see him struggling make pull trump back a little bit maybe on some of his rhetoric or do something. nobody has gotten anything from trump. paul ryan is 46 years oldie going go to be around h donald
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trump is gone. what can i do to protect republican party that i want to represent. because i don't think donald trump now -- he is the face of the republican party this year. donald trump defines the g.o.p. at least until november. >> i think not rejecting donald trump kind of sets up the future paul ryan for the same kind of failure. one of the reason that donald trump can even win if the countervailing forces that could have existed in large share of what -- just don't exist. the polarization, as much racial polarization that produced trump. trump himself is going to reinforce that racial polarization. after '64 goldwater helped make african americans a permanent democratic voting group. trump can do the same for latinos. 10 years from now,.
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>> dickerson: how long does paul ryan have. he doesn't want fake unity. doesn't he have to get the -- how long do you think that is? >> he says this is going to be a long process to michael's point i think that he will want something. i don't know what that will be. there's so much difference between these two men in terms of style, in terms of tone. in terms much their vision for the party long term. i think that he clearly sent message that he's going to get there. for him personally the long e this takes, every day that paul ryan on capitol hill is going to be asked, are you there yet? going to over shadow what he really believes in strongly which is a positive, affirmative agenda that republicans can run on. he has to balance that. how much does he want this open question about trump to over take what he believes is an agenda that his house members can run on in november. >> dickerson: you've seen president up close, what they look like, having worked for one.
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in congressman king sayingf donald trump changes some positions on north korea, on some other specific areas, he would feel more confident, is that all this is about just getting right positions on this issues? >> politicians are used to dealing with splitting differences on issues. they are used to two bad alternatives. the question is, whether the republican candidate for president is fit to be president. whether he is pursued division at the center of american politics that could really change our public life in destructive ways, fundamental and destructive ways. under those circumstances you're not talking about this issue or that. we're talking about fitness. about, can this man represent america in the world. can he represent all our citizens in this process. those are open questions right now given the way that he has gotten to this point.
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>> dickerson: jamelle, what others would say, whatever questions people may have about donald trump and his if fitting, merry christmas, we heard i am, has the same kinds of challenges is that a pretty good pushback to point michael makes? >> i don't think it's a good pushback. hillary clinton has whole host of problems. her problems with transparency, tight connections to wall street all these things that people are justly upset about. these mainstream politics. on policy substance not that far from barack obama. trump is, is conjuring the worst kind of nativism. the for the sake of winning an election. you open that box in any kind of society, but he especially american society where we have these deep seeded racial divisions that have long had implications for politics, these are open that box.
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doesn't close again and i think because of that, because trump is bringing to the floor for the first time in decades in explicit ways, some of the ugly impulses, i don't think it's matter of, hillary clinton is worse. sure, she's a liberal you don't like her. but she's not -- not encouraging violence at political events. >> this gets to the whole call could you clubhouse that clinton is making that voters in the end will want mainstream politics, someone with experience. trump is making a different calculation, he won out in the republican primary. it's risky for her in some degree because she does have to try to inspire people. have to make them feel likely could come to washington and shake things up. she just wants them in the end you might not like her, might have trouble with honesty. >> some wrong campaign for
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hillary clinton. may end up winning but she represents -- she wants to outline policy positions. we were talking about this. comes out with very interesting policies including medicare. absolutely not breaking through because what breaks through is what donald trump says how she responds to it. that would be dilemma for the next six months how do you define exam pain when he is driving the conversation. >> dickerson: pick up on that when we come back. for the moment we'll take break, we'll be back with our panel and much more.
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[crowd cheering over phone] >> dickerson: we're back with more from our panel. michael, i want to try to get to you help me think about what the turf looks like now that we're in a general election. there were a lot of things undone by donald trump masterfully, changing the play book at reince priebus. are there some standards that still apply? >> well, he's making an unusual message to the american people. this is not -- he's pretty random on policy pieces, hard to determine like quantum physics. they're changing all the time. he's offering himself to be in charge of everything. it's a very much a person appeal he's making. the side effect of that, by the ways very likely to get negative election here.
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you have two personalities against one another. not he is necessarily two visions. you are given trumps pension for attacking back with even greater intensity. this could be a very negative election. based on personality, rather than on policy it changes all the time. >> dickerson: feels like we'll have, not only based on personality but both parties feel like they're having arranged marriage where we talked about the party that is going to be difficult. but in the democratic party that contest is over there's also going to be this kind of arranged marriage. >> it's being put off longer and longer as bernie sanders continues to win. he'll probably have more victories, you see hillary clinton trying to reach out to sanders' voters what her campaign, what democrats broadly believe is that having trump as the republican nominee will be more of motivating factor than anything else but certain point she does have to be able to turn her attention toward the
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general, toward uniting her party and longer that sanders keeps winning the harder that comes for her. >> why won't you get out of the race you keep winning. like people make that argument against her in 2008. when you look at the west virginia primary which of course sanders won, the scariest number for clinton people were 38% of sanders' voters said that he this would vote for trump. west virginia has peculiar politics, that shows kind of appeal of the anti-establishment candidate that both sanders and trump have been. >> dickerson: what if that is right, we're so fed up with washington that -- reince preburs used the word earthquake. forget position, we want the earthquake that's donald trump. >> i tray might be true in the republican party. i'm just 23409 true it is in democratic party. you ask sanders' voters what do you think of president obama. huge approval. what do you think of hillary
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clinton? pretty good approval. ask hem, what kind ever policy would you like to see continued? it's usually kind of obama-style mix. i think much as spring 2008. creates the perception that there are these deep divisions. no doubt there are generational differences, they play themselves out in various ways going forward. in terms of the presidential race, i tend to think there isn't that much unity in the democratic party, if sanders decides to campaign for democratic party which he continuously says him and surrogates do everybody out of the white house. this -- i don't think given that the democratic party almost li like -- close to majority, not think that trump is the earthquake that anyone in the democratic party looking for. >> dickerson: the trump cabinet which is talking to some
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republicans they say, if he puts chris christie in here and ben carson, brings in guiliani they take comfort in the people that he might surround himself w. is that a -- is that good way for him to make the case to a larger group of republicans, i'm not -- give them stability? >> i think the way to make the case to the larger group of republicans look like it might win. that is what persuade lot of people that are interested in power in washington. they find ways to accommodate in the circumstances. i think that the foreign policy establishment of the republican party probably least attached to the republican party. they have been the most critical of his say on -- or ties with allies just basic things which you say in the gates' interview as well. these are radical, dangerous foreign policy positions that he's undertaken. foreign policy establishment lot to swallow in order to
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participate. >> robert gates pretty good republican, right? do do you think he's going to vote for? he didn't answer that question. suffer surrounded like he was more comfortable with hillary clinton. >> dickerson: we'll be back with that interview with secretary gates. stay with us.
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>> dickerson: we're back with more of our conversation with former defense secretary robert gates. you talked how important it is to have somebody on your staff who tells you no as president. >> there's been in the "new york times" magazine the deputy national security advisor, lot of talk about that in washingtons his relationship with barack obama typical in your experience. >> i think every president has advisors with whom they have very special relationship. particularly though when it comes to substantive matters. those advisors tend to be very senior and very experienced, for example, those extraordinarily close relationship between the first president bush and his national security advisor, brent skokroft. i had a very close relationship with bush 41 as deputy national
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security advisor. the same level position that mr. rhodes has. i think that all presidents have those relationships with people that they can trust and people they can be themselves around. people they can let hire hair down, say what they really think about somebody. the question is, how much influence they have on the policy making process and whether at the same time they're listening to the senior cabinet officers and others that they have appointed, presumably in whose judgment they also trust. >> dickerson: there is criticism of the obama administration that they block or shape, try to shape the views of senior cabinet officials and too much control, did you experience that in your days? >> no. i never had that problem. mainly because i just wouldn't let them. it's mainly staff. the president always -- i found president obama very welcoming
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of honest and candid points of view. he and i would have some very direct conversations in private. and he more often than not would end them. sometimes we disagree very strongly. he would end them by standing up, smiling, saying are you sure i can't get to you stay another year. so, i think -- >> dickerson: was he being facetious or did he like the back and forth? >> i think he welcomed it. he obviously didn't decide my way all the time, by any means, but i'm not sure how many people there are left in the administration at this point who are willing to have direct issues with him like that. i just don't know. >> dickerson: some of the conclusions people have drawn reading that about ben rhodes that he shaped the environment for the iran deal. that he misled the public, do you see that from your observation of the iran deal and it's being sold by the white
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house? >> i didn't have that sense. i thought some of the things that the white house was saying in terms of believing that lifting the sanctions could, over time, lead the regime in iran to change its stripes and become a normal country, if you will. i think -- i always thought that was a stretch. but i didn't have the sense that people were being manipulated, that was news to me from that article. >> dickerson: in that article you are a part of what rhodes calls "the blob" of the american foreign policy establishment. what does that mean to you? >> the thing that struck me, because there was this disdainful reference to the foreign policy establishment in an earlier interview that the president gave, what intrigued me about it is the notion that the blob all has one point of view. the blob presumably includes
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skokroft, presumably includes me, i was deeply opposed to the intervention in libya. and george schulz who argued for getting rid of nuclear weapons along with bill perry, former secretary of defense, so, the blob is as diverse in its points of view as any group of people around. the one thick that members of that elite group have in common is experience. some of them have given bad advice. some of us have given bad advice in the past. some of us have given good advice. to lump everybody together and say -- really the can't dates kind of do that. to say, i don't need those people, i don't want those people. is to dismiss awful lot of experience and very great diversity of views on the challenges we face and how to deal with them. >> dickerson: the president's characterization was that the reaction is always kind of --
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president has to act and act militarily. >> the irony in that, i posed intervention in libya. my reaction in the situation room was during those debates, can i just finish the two wars we're already in before you go looking for a third one. so, again, i think that there is this sort of political shorthand of lumping people together that really doesn't make any sense. frankly is a disservice. >> dickerson: the president also said that he was proud of his decision not to take military action against syria, the so-called red line moment. other people have different view, is that something the president should be proud of his decision not to act? >> i would state that into two questions. should he have laid down red line in the first place. and having laid down a red line or whether or not he laid down red line should he have taken military action. first of all, i believe, always caution, that president should
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be extraordinarily careful about issuing ultimatums or drawing red lines, because when a president of the united states does that, the rest of the world must know it is fatal to cross it. that when the united states makes a threat, it is not an empty threat. that said, i don't think he should have ever made the threat in the first place. i would have counseled him against it. whether he should have used their power early on to either create safe havens or to ground assad's air force i think that is a debatable point. should we send significant numbers of american combat forces into syria, i would say, absolutely not. and i agreed with him on that point. >> dickerson: how different do you think hillary clinton's view is than barack obama? >> well, as much as -- to the extent that i watched the
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debates and commentary i haven't frankly seen a lot of discussion about foreign policy on the democratic side. it was my experience in working with her that she was very tough minded. and, for example, when general mckrystle was asking for 40,000 additional troops in afghanistan she was very tough in support of what the general wanted. she also was an advocate for going in to libya. i us sect, although we have not had conversation since i left in almost five years, i would suspect that generally speaking she is more hawkish than president obama. >> dickerson: do you think this hillary clinton politics gets in the way of her judgment? >> all i can say in two and a half years that we worked together i never saw that. >> dickerson: you mentioned in your book that she said her opposition to the surge during
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george w. bush's administration was political. >> senators have luxury of taking positions, because they have no responsibility. and as i've said i think that i was startled by that, but i never saw her take that position in the two and a half years. i never saw her in that two and a half years let domestic politics influence her recommendations to the president or her positions in the situation room. >> dickerson: do you think she can handle the job of the president? >> yeah. again, i think it also depends in her case, who is she going to surround herself with. and what are the policy options she's going to pursue? what would be her alternatives in places like syria and with isis and how to deal with putin and the chinese and so on.
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we just haven't heard much of that. >> dickerson: secretary gates, thank you soap much. we wanted to note that ben rhodes is the brother of cbs news president david rhodes. we'll be right back. the call just came in. she's about to arrive. and with her, a flood of potential patients. a deluge of digital records. x-rays, mris. all on account...of penelope. but with the help of at&t, and a network that scales up and down on-demand, the hospital can be ready.
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>> dickerson: that's it for us today. thanks for watching. until next week for "face the nation," i'm john dickerson. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
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