tv PBS News Hour PBS September 9, 2013 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> ifill: on television and on capitol hill, president obama launches a wide-ranging campaign to win public and congressional support for his plan to strike syria. >> the president made his case. >> my intentions throughout this process has been to ensure that the blatant use of chemical weapons that we sought doesn't happen again. if, in fact, there's a way to accomplish that diplomatically that is overwhelmingly my preference. >> in >> woodruff: in damascus, president assad said the u.s. is lying when it claims he's gassed his own people. >> woodruff: assad's full conversation with charlie rose airs later tonight on pbs.
we'll talk to charlie about it in a few minutes. >> ifill: we'll have reaction to both interviews in tonight's program. >> woodruff: also, opening the doors of the nation's most elite colleges to all. jeffrey brown looks at a program for students from low-income families. >> my parents always said that these schools were for the rich people that could afford it. >> good evening >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. those are just some of the stories we're covering on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway. >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> and with the ongoing support
of these institutions and foundations. and... >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> woodruff: on this first night of the new pbs newshour, we have a lot of news for you. >> ifill: we also have a new look, but judy and i will be bringing you the news and analysis you have come to trust. >> woodruff: tonight our lead story is syria, where developments have been moving fast. >> from da damascus, a warning m president bashar al-assad. >> for this, everything is on the brink of explosion. >> as sawed told interviewer charlie rose of pbs and cbs, the claims his regime used poison gas are lies and he issue add veiled threat about fallout from
my u.s. military strikes. >> syria is linked and whatever you want to call it, if you strike somewhere you have to expect a precaution in a different form. >> u.s. secretary of state john kerry dismissed the warning during a stop in london, and he insisted any u.s. action would be very small scale. >> we're not going to war. we will not have people rest in that way. that is exactly what we're talking about doing. unbelievely small limited type of effort. >> kerry went on to say there is a way that as sawed could prevent an attack. >> he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week, turn it over, all of it. and without delay. and without a full total accounting for that but he isn't about to do it. >> in short order, the general
joined in calling for syria to hand over it's chemical arsenal. russia, syria's ally endorsed the i'd as well. er is guy abrf. >> we call for the facilities to be under international control and destroy them afterwards. >> and even syria's foreign minister in moscow quickly agreed. >> i declare that syria welcomes the russian proposal out of concern for the lives of the syrian people, the security of our country, because of the wisdom of the russian leadership that seek to avert american aggression against our people. >> in washington, initially u.s. officials, past and present, voiced interest and skepticism. former secretary of state hillary clinton spoke at the white house event. said --
>> if the regime immediately surrenders its stockpile to international control, as was suggested by secretary kerry and the russians that would be an important step. but this cannot be another excuse for delay for obstruction, and russia has to support the international community's efforts sincerely or be held to account. >> but hours later, a surprising clarification, a senior official traveling with kerry said the secretary's remarks had been rhetorical and not intended as a serious proposal. meanwhile, the administration pressed its lobbying effort to win congressional support. it included a closed-door meeting this evening for all members of congress, just back from a month-lingeries is. the first major test will come
on wednesday, when the senate takes a procedural vote on a resolution to authorize force against syria. the diplomatic back and forth over transferring syrian weaponos outside control created confusion for much of the day. it also became a prime topic in a series of interviews at the white house and on this program. just moments ago, gwen sat down with president obama to talk about that and his congressional pitch. >> mr. president, thank you for speaking with us again. 10 days ago you said you were hoping -- john kerry talked today about a limited unbelievably small effort and now we're hearing news that russia has a plan, a solution perhaps, which would allow syria to take all of its weapons and put it under international control. is that something that you have had any conversations at all with president putin about when you were in st. petersburg last
week? >> i did have those conversations and this is a continuation of conversations i have had with president putin for quite some time. as i said the last time we spoke, this chemical weapons ban matters to us, to the united states. it is a ban on the worst kinds of weapons that are indiscriminate that don't distinguish between somebody in union form and an infant child and for that reason the overwhelming majority of the world has said you can't use this. and my intentions throughout this process has been to ensure that the blatant use of chemical weapons that we saw doesn't happen again. if narcotic there's a way to accomplish that diplomatically that is overwhelmingly my preference, and, you know, i have instructed john kerry to talk directly to the russians and run this to ground, and if we can exhaust these diplomatic efforts and come up with a
formula that give us the international community a verifiable, enforceable mechanism to deal with these chemical weapons in syria, then i'm all for it. but we're going to have to see specifics and i think it is reasonable to assume that we would not be at this point if there were not a credible military threat standing behind the norm against the use of chemical weapons. >> charlie rose had had a conversation in damascus today with bashar al-assad and one of the things he said is there might be repercussions if there were a u.s. attack. do you believe at all a u.s. attack to backfire? >> i think you always have to take all precautions and recognize that any military action, even a limited one, is a significant piece of business, and, you know, we had looked very carefully at all of the possibilities. i think it's important to recognize that as sawed does
not -- assad does not have significant capabilities relative to us. he has significant capabilities relative to nonprofessionals, soldiers in the opposition. >> he has obviously significant capabilities to the women and children who were gassed, but not with respect to us. his allies do. arena, hezbollah, they could carry out asymmetrical attacks against our embassies for example in the region. but we don't actually think that they want to do something like that. keep in mind that iran was the country last subjected to chemical weapons by saddam hussein so there's a real aversion to chemical weapons. i don't think either iran or hezbollah thought what iran did was a good idea. for us to take a significant and proportion alstrike an assad's ability to use them -- having
said that we take all precautions and we don't go into anything without having thought through the various measures that are required. >> assad said the u.s. is lying about his possession or use of chemical weapons. >> i think mr. assad has been making claims that proved to be untrue for quite some time. there's nobody in the international committee that thinks that chemical weapons were not used on august 21. >> by the syrian the bottom of the? >> well, period. and there is very -- there are very few folks out there who seriously think the opposition had the capability to kill over a thousand people using rockets that came from regime-controlled areas into areas that were opposition-controlled. so, you know, we have made a very compelling case about
assad's use. i don't think people consider assad to be a real credible person on the international stage. but, as i have said before, if there are ways for us to resolve the situation so that nobody is using chemical weapons on the ground in syria that's the goal we want to accomplish. and what is true is that the longer this conflict goes on with chemical weapons on the ground, after having seen the barbaric attacks that took place, you could end up with a situation where some of the more dangerous and unsavory members of the opposition, you know, got their hands eventually on these chemical weapons. now i'm pleased to say the opposition that we work with, the conversations with the international community have supported, they have been very clear in statements, they don't want chemical weapons. they don't believe in them. they think it's a terrible crime to have used them.
and so i think that if we can come up with a mechanism to get these under control, verify and enforce that they are not being used, then we should do everything we can to pursue that. but that's not going to happen if assad thinks that he can lie his way through this and eventually the world forgets the images of those children who were gassed. >> how per swayed members of congress and americans and polls today show they're not in favor of the idea, and the republican senator from nebraska that you met with last night said she doesn't see the end of this, and doesn't know what the purpose of it is. and democrats have said, you should withdraw your request for an authorization. and i know there's a full-court press under way. how do you change their mind? >> you know i'm not sure that we're ever going to get a majority of the american people after over a decade of war, after what happened in iraq to say that any military action,
particularly in the middle east, makes sense in the absence of some direct threat or attack against us. and that's understandable. you know, if you talk to my own family members or michelle's, you know, they're very wary and suspicious of any action. so tomorrow i will speak to the american people. i will explain this not iraq, this is not afghanistan, this is not even libya. we're not talking about boots on the ground, we're not talking about sub attend air strikes. we're talking about a specific set of strikes to degrade his chemical weapons capabilities in terms of delivery, and, you know, i will continue to brief congress on this. but i knew when i said i was going to present this to congress that this would be challenging. i also want to make the case though that it is in our long-term national security interest to make sure this
chemical weapons ban is enforced >> do you need -- >> i believe every president has the authority to acting on behalf of the national security interest of the country. and that under the war powers act we have to consult with congress and inform them after actions are taken. but i also believe that when it comes to an issue like this -- and these are going to be the kind of issue we have going forward, not direct attacks necessarily against the united states, not some state wanting to start a war with us because nobody can have a direct war with us, at least without inflicting enormous damage on themselves, but these kinds of issues, like chemical weapons use, terrorists being, you know, operating out of certain areas, in these kinds of situations, for us to start having a clear conversation about what we're willing to do is the right thing
to do. and so i'm glad we're having this debate. i don't think that i'm going to convince, you know, the overwhelming majority of the american people to take any kind of military action. but i believe i can make a very strong case to congress as well as the american people about why we can't leave our children a world in which other children are being subjected to nerve gas. and that it is in our interest if we can take a limited step that makes a minimal difference it's worth it for us to do that and i firmly believe that. i have said before, i got elected to end wars, not start them. i, over the last four and a half years have done everything i can to limit our military footprint around the world and to ramp up our diplomatic efforts. but there are times where, if the choice is do nothing or stand up to a terrible wrong that could lead to a more
dangerous world down the road then it's appropriate for us to take proportional measures and that's what we're talking about here. >> mr. president thank you for joining us. >> thank you. i really enjoyed it. >> now a closer look at the story that drove the news cycle earlier today, charlie rose's interview with syrian president assad. it airs in its entirety on most pbs stations tonight. however, excerpts like this appeared on "cbs this morning." >> everything they say bad about a dictator, they're now saying about you. >> when you have the doctor that got the link to protect the patient from the bang green, you don't -- when you have terrorism, you have war. when you have war, you always have innocent life that could be
the victim of any war. >> and charlie rose joins us now. congratulations, charlie! this was an interview every news organization wanted. how difficult was it to arrange? >> very difficult, judy. but, in the end, what happened is that i basically said to them, look, for my program, we will do an unedited interview for 53 minutes, an hour. same thing i did with the president of the united states. and that was acceptable. they had had some experience where they felt like an interview had been sort of manipulated. so without getting into that, i said i will give you an unedited interview. what the president says will be on the program. and they agreed to that. and then we have had a deal to make -- to come to damascus and do the interview. i only got the approval literally the day before i left. so it was not easy. lots of conversations took place. and we went there.
i took jeff fager, president of the "cbs news" and my friend and executive producer of "60 minutes" with me, and cbs provided a lot of help for me in the process of getting to damascus. we got there. the first airing of the interview is tonight on pbs. >> right. >> and it was a remarkable experience, in which he said, if i could make this point, everybody asks me what is the headline? and there were lots of headlines from the issue and one did not necessarily go further than the other. but this has come up. there is today -- and this is from "the new york times" -- a seemingly offhand suggestion by john kerry that syria could avert a attack by relinquishing chemical weapons received almost immediate welcome from syria, russia and the united nations it is said. without knowing any of that i asked the president of syria the following: the president is prepared to strike and perhaps will get the authorization of congress or not. >> the question then is would
you give up chemical weapons if it would prevent the president from authorizing a strike. is that had a deal you would accept. he then said to me, again, you always imply we have chemical weapons. i say i have to because that's the assumption of the president, that is his assumption and he is the one that will order the strike. he said: if it's his problem if he has an assumption but for us in sear, we are do anything to prevent the region from another crazy war. it's not only syria because it will start in syria. i say: you are do anything to prevent the region from having a crazy war? he says: yes. so there seems to be, in this conversation a recognition by the president, without knowing the developing story, that they would listen to the idea of somehow giving up control of the chemical weapons. >> so he left that door open at the same time he absolutely denied using chemical weapons on the rebels, even denied the existence of chemical weapons in the hands of the regime.
>> yes. >> charlie, how did you find his demeanor? how did he dom across to you? was he defiant or -- >> north of these things. i thought he was calm. there was no stridency about him. we had a conversation which began with, are you prepared to strike? we went through everything in terms of very tough moments about the fact that many people believe he is the worst kind of dictator ask that he used enormous chemical weapons and against his own people. and at all times, there was a sense of calm. there was a sense of being conversational. there was a sense of being responsive. so if he was under, as you would imagine, intense stress, he was neither defiant nor any other sort of one-word description. >> so was there something about him that surprised you? i'm also curious about the
atmosphere in the place where you were. i recognize you were only there for a short time. the people around him, did you pick up any other signals? >> well, they constantly -- people around him would say to me, i'm doing this for my country, i love my country, that's why i'm working here, that kind of thing. the interesting thing about syria, the part that i see, and irhave to emphasize that i had a very limited view a because of time and, b, because my transportation was between where i was staying and where the interview was going to tie place. i didn't see the evidence that clearly must be there of a country that is in the midst of a war and hears bombs and explosions every night and may be expecting to reign down upon it a kind of attack it has never experienced before. you didn't get that from the street. >> charlie rose, a remarkable interview. congratulations again. and thank you. >> thank you, judy.
>> and shortly before gwen's interview with the president, i spoke with russia's ambassador to the united nations, b.cherken. well marks, your government is talking publicly about this proposal under which sear afterput its chemical weapons under international control. tell us, how would that work and how quickly? >> well, we're respondent to what secretary kerry said today in land done and said a military strike by the united states and syria could be stopped if the strong pile could be put under control. and today in moscow, the news of mr. kerry's statement came after the talks and we're very respondent by our foreign minister who came up with this initiative that we will work with the government of syria in order to achieve that
international control and, more over, to move towards the destruction of the syrian chemical stockpile and making syria -- and the syrians responded positively, so i think if we work together with the united states and with the united nations and today secretary general of the united nations made their remarks very similar to the remarks of those, i think we could accomplish that, in a way, which would prevent the major escalation of the syrian crises. >> we're seeing a u.s. official quoted as saying what secretary kerry said was, quote, rhetorical. you're taking it as a serious proposal though? >> well, it's a statement which was made by the secretary of state of the united states. and you know, this subject was discussed not specifically to prevent an american military strike but it was discussed in one of the previous conversations or recent conversations between minister
and secretary kerry so i think there is reason to believe this is not something that was done extemporaneously but anyway no matter how those statements came about i think it's important 0 -- it's important to grab the opportunity which may be there to prevent the escalation of the syrian crises which is inevitable should the military strikes take place. and incidentally that would also take care of a long-standing concern of israel for their security, in case chemical weapons from syria somehow spill over to the israeli territory. so i think this is a very important initiative, which has been picked up by the syrian government, and our leverage sometimes does work -- not always but sometimes it does work and let's hope this is one of those situations where again we could work together with the united states on this, along with the preparation of the geneva ii conference initiated by secretary kerry and the
minister, so i think we need to have yes for an answer from the united states and we have statementss, as i mentioned from secretary bund of the united nations who said it's a good opportunity to continue this triangular cooperation in terms of geneva 2. >> what makes you think that the syrians are prepared to turn over control of those chemical weapons in that interview with charlie rose president assad did not even acknowledge they had chemical weapons, number one. and number two, the report is they spent years amassing these weapons. what makes you think they would give up that control? >> well, they say they are accepting our initiative, and i haven't seen yet president assad's interview. i understand that he has been repeating the long-standing line of the syrians who refuse to acknowledge they are in possession of chemical weapons.
mirror imaging the israelis to their nuclear stockpile so there's nothing surprising about that refusal two days ago but now we have -- after the statements by secretary krerry and the foreign minister. >> why should americans not see this, mr. ambassador, as simply a stalling tactic? why should the american government, the u.s. government, see this as a serious move that could change the situation within a matter of days? >> because it is a serious move. and it is a response to what the secretary of state of the united states said and, of course, it can be disregarded or it can be somehow interpreted in a negative way and the united states can go ahead and do this military strike, which would eliminate any chance of political settlement which could have catastrophic consequences for syria and which would make that war another american war
like vietnam and iraq used to be and all of this conversation about 60 to 90 days campaign and then the united states returning to its shores and forgetting all about syria, and in such situations the rule applies -- the china shop rule applies: you broke it, you bought it. so syria, after a strike, would become an american conflict and there's no way for the united states to balk away from it, especially in a situation where the united states is pretty much isolated internationally. >> it sound like you're saying an american strike could lead to just indescribable consequences? >> absolutely. in this situation, one doesn't have to be a military expert to recognize that. you cannot calculate it's not a computer game. you cannot calculate everything in advance. what american officials are saying, their are going to cripple the possibility for the assad government to use the
chemical stockpile. we're not quite clear what that means but it may well be it will impale the syrian government in control of the stockpile increasing the chance of getting to the hands of the syrians and all over the place, and to say nothing of the likely increase in fighting, because the position groups and the al qaeda affiliated groups will take the opportunity of an american strike to intensify their onslaughts and incidents they have been committing in front of the internet cameras for a number of years. >> and secretary kerry has said any strike would be, in his words, quote, unbelievably small. >> well, i don't believe it's possible. i mean, the fact of it is going to be unbelievably big. and of course, no matter how small or big it is, it's going to be a violation of international law, because syria, of course, has not
undertaken an aggression against the united states. there's no decision of the security council to use military force. i mean these american officials recognize that the united states cannot be the world's policemen. they need to come to the realization the united states is no longer the world's judge and jury. they have come to their conclusion, a large part of the world did you not share their conclusion. i might suspect that they are not going to assure the american officials their conclusions are wrong. but even though we would suspect that we would shed more light on the situation after we learn the results of the investigation which was carried out by u.n. inspectors in syria of this use of chemical weapons but we got into an initiative of the russian federation to allow the united states to avoid all of the dramatic consequences which
might be there and most likely are going to be there in the case of the use of american force in syria, and how the united states would avoid another nasty conflict in the middle east for which the united states will become responsible should there be an eminent strike by the united states. >> we hear you, mr. ambassador. ambassador, russia ace ambassador to the united nations. >> thank you very much. >> as the president and i were discussing, a new poll is out today showing the american public overwhelmingly opposes military action. for more on the numbers i'm joined by jennifer jennifer, director of polling for the press and michael polemenij of the pew research center. how to explain america's deep antipathy for the potential for intervention. michael? >> and its growing concern. the opposition last week was
lower than thirst weak. despite a week of making the case the public is moving in the other direction. the biggest factor behind it is not that the arguments for it aren't persuasive but the arguments against are really weighing heavily on people and that is the concern that a u.s. military effort in syria could lead to unforeseen results that are bad for united states, whether it's our allies in the region, whether it's militarily, there's a concern this could do more harm than good, and, in that case, i don't think it has been made to people yet. >> jennifer, tell me what your numbers show in the poll that is out this afternoon. >> we're finding that the arguments that a have been made in favor of taking action in syria are not convincing the american public. only one in five say they believe it's likely that an attack would deter other leaders from using chemical weapons and many say they think any involvement would lead to a long-term commitment of military
forces and those opinions are generally consistent across party lines which is somewhat surprising an on issue such as this. >> do your numbers add up to that, michael? >> six out of 10 people in our survey said they believe the u.s. needs to take some kind of action in response to the use of chemical weapons but among those fewer than half favor air strikes. some. is there a moral distinction for what should move u.s. action? >> we haven't seen a moral distinction in our pole. it's more resistance to getting involved in another military conflict and having that turn into a longer term commitment. >> how about the idea of chemical weapons along this tipping point. are people persuaded with this argument? >> they seem not to be. i believe that a military strike
would dissuade other leaders from using them in the future, and so that argument against it, for why that red line is not clicking through to the american public. >> michael. >> one argument that has not settled in is the case that doing nothing would challenge america's credibility in foreign policy. that's not an argument that is persuading a lot of americans. >> what does this do for the president's standing. you heard what the president said about this. he doesn't expect to win over everyone on this matter but he clearly is being tested on it. >> his disapproval rating has actually risen. >> over what period of time. >> in june 2012, 43 percent said they disapprove of his handling of syria and that has risen to a majority saying they disapprove of how he is handling it. he still has the support of democrats in his handling but it has fallen off among republicans and independents. we're seeing a similar thing,
his overall approval is down and it's related to concerns or reservations about this policy. but he does still have pretty good support, even though a majority of democrats are against taking military action in syria, his support among democrats seems to be strong and also among other key groups like african-americans and minorities. >> the president, i asked him whether he would do this again, go to congress and have them debate it, he said absolutely. is this something americans support, basically he handed over his executive power, he says is it his executive power, to congress? >> i think most polls suggest the idea of bringing it to congress is very popular. there's kind of a "why-not" factor in the public's mind and getting more people involved isn't necessarily a bad thing, at least at first. how long it drags out could have some effect on thattitude. and we found that by 2-1, people are of the view right now that whatever congress says should be
decisive here. if congress says no they get to make the final call. that's the leading opinion for the public. >> year's hearing that, even if congress were to vote against the president, the idea that he might overrule them at this point is not an option? >> yeah, i believe that is the case in the polling. and our question we asked whether people preferred for congress to vote for or against the resolution to use force and found that 6 in 10 said they believe that congress should vote against it. >> is this something that is -- is there a connection between that and what we're hearing. sometimes it seems anecdotal or an organized opposition. but what you're saying in the numbers and your polling ask your surveys is that this goes deeper than just the organized opposition? >> yeah. i believe it does. it crosses party lines. it crosses most of the demographic lines that usually divides the public on issue. it's a consistent opinion across the board. >> and the strength of opinion runs very much against getting involved in syria militarily, by
3-1. 45 percent of the people that we interviewed over the weekend strongly oppose this action. only 16 percent strongly favor it. that's how you can get that tilt in the e-mails and letters and phone calls you're getting. >> the president's message, can people be persuaded by that? are they persuadable? >> a week ago a quarter of the people said they were not sure. that someone to 9 percent in the current poll so a case could be made this is a direct conversation he should have had earlier. but most of the people that we talk to, whether they favor or owe poe it right now, do seem ambivalent right now. supporters of it do worry about the risks that it could have for future security. opponents of it, many of them do understand the need to respond, to the kind of red line argument, so there is some ambivalence he could work with. >> jennifer jennifer and michael dimock, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> amid the opposition among the public and in congress, there
was word this evening that the senate majority leader harry reid has delayed a test vote on authorizing military force. he said it would not help to vote on military action while diplomatic efforts continue. in our news today, the results the results of sunday's election for mayor of moscow were called into question. the official count showed an ally of president vladimir putin barely managed to avoid a runoff. moscow's election commission said incumbent sergei sobyanin had won just over 50% of the vote. . >> the elections were falsified. i think there's more than one independent observer who has raised doubts over this. we do not recognize these elections and he can't consider himself the mayor of all. he can't consider himself lawfully elected until he agrees
to a recount of the vote. >> woodruff: navalny said he was mainly contesting the vote-from- home totals, which went overwhelmingly for sobyanin. russia's most respected election monitoring group also questioned the accuracy of the results. in business news, wall street got the week off to a big start. the dow jones industrial average gained 140 points to close at 15,063. the nasdaq rose 46 points to close at 3706. a long-lost vincent van gogh painting has now been discovered. "sunset at montmajour" is the dutch master's first full-size canvas to be identified in 85 years. the landscape painting dates back to 1888, and was unveiled today at the van gogh museum in amsterdam. it had been stored in an attic in norway for six decades after its owner was told it was a fake. the museum's director called it a "once-in-a-lifetime experience." >> it has from his most
prominent period in his career, from his period in -- when he worked in the south of france in provence and it's during the period he painted the sun flowers, the yellow house, the bedroom, his most famous works. >> the newly discovered painting >> woodruff: the newly discovered painting will go on public display at the van gogh museum beginning september 24. still to come on the newshour, opening up elite colleges to low-income students; and the fight over guns in colorado. >> ifill: now, our look at expanding access to the country's most prestigious universities. it's part of our focus on inequality in america. there's been much attention of late about rising student debt and soaring college costs. but for some high-achieving students from lower-income families, the problem is even
more acute: they rarely even apply to the nation's top schools. jeffrey brown reports on efforts to change that. >> let's start with hobbes. >> brown: 8:30 a.m. on a summer morning on the campus of princeton university, and these high school students are already engaged in a rigorous discourse about political philosophy. >> we're predisposed to competition. >> good, good. we're getting there. >> it's survival of the fittest. >> good, good. >> brown: alejandra rincon, who grew up in texas-- just 15 minutes from the mexico border-- is an honor student at her school. but she said she'd never been exposed to anything like this. >> because i felt that he was teaching us so much and if i wouldn't have been here, where would i have learned this? >> alejandro?
>> the class is part >> brown: the class is part of an intensive boot camp for 60 high school students from around the country from inner cities and rural areas-- students who never imagined they could attend or afford an ivy league school. >> my parents always said that these schools were for the rich people that can afford it. so i always thought it would be difficult for me to come to these institutions. >> brown: the program is called the "leadership enterprise for a diverse america"-- "leda," for short. it provides academic tutoring and help with the admissions process for students about to enter their senior year of high school, as well as follow-up counseling through four years of college. costs run about $23,000 per student, and are paid with private donations. princeton provides both money and the facilities. leda has ambitious goals: to narrow a socioeconomic gap that's been widening at the
nations top colleges. >> the problem is that we live in the land of equal opportunity, but opportunities in education are not equal for all young men and women who are studying in america today. >> brown: shirley tilghman is the former president of princeton and a board member at leda. she cites recent reports such as one from georgetown university: just 14% of students at the most competitive colleges come from families in the lower half of the income bracket, and a mere 5% come from the bottom quarter. >> where you were born, into what family you are born, what their resources are to a large extent are going to determine the quality of education you receive, beginning in preschool and moving all the way to college. and what this is going to create in america is a different kind of aristocracy that's going to
be self-perpetuating, unless we find ways to break that juggernaut. >> brown: an "aristrocracy"-- strong word. but commentators have noted that so many of our leaders-- presidents, supreme court justices, wall street, and corporate heads-- come out of the most elite schools. in addition, the institution a student attends can have long- term financial consequences. georgetown researchers found that students who graduate from selective colleges will on average make $2 million more over their lifetime than those attending non-selective ones. officials at schools such as princeton have long said they want to recruit a more economically diverse population. but overall progress has been slow. one problem: many low-income students simply don't apply. often they don't live near cities where college recruiters go. and they rarely have role models who've attended such schools and
can guide them through the process. leda-- like several other non- profit groups around the country-- tries to provide that guidance. reporter: so an application that you worked really hard on >> brown: an extensive recruitment program seeks out promising high school juniors in overlooked geographic regions, and brings them to a six-week summer session that includes classroom work, college essay tutoring, and tours of a dozen different campuses. it's made harrenson gorman, who lives with his mother on the navajo reservation in new mexico, think about college in a new way. >> i just didn't know anything about college. i always thought it was like high school. you go there, you get a degree. you get a job. >> do people at home, family or friends, even think about coming to a place like princeton or another selective school?
>> i don't think they do. a lot of people in my community, they don't think they can get any farther than just community college. >> brown: the same is true for nebiyu kebede, who immigrated to minneapolis from ethiopia when he was ten years old. neither his father-- a parking attendant-- nor his mother-- a nursing home assistant-- attended college, although they've always told their son that he must. >> i've always known that i could go to a decent school, but that meant my state school. it wasn't an ivy league. nobody expected you to go that far. and because nobody expected that from me, i really didn't expect that from myself. >> brown: lower-income students are also at a disadvantage, because often their families haven't been able to afford the extras that top-tier colleges increasingly look for. shirley tilghman is haunted by the statistic that the best predictor of s.a.t. scores is family income.
>> what that really reflects is the fact that resources-- not wealth, necessarily-- but just good middle-class resources can buy quality of experience for children. and they lead to students who >> brown: when jake martin came to the leda workshop, it was the first time he had ever left the hawaiian island he grew up on. he says he hadn't considered attending anything but a state college because he assumed he couldn't afford anything else. >> in my family, college is not a topic that comes up at all. my parents are not saving money. they don't know how to pay for it. they just talk about getting loans. and i'm worried. i don't want to come out of college getting loans. >> brown: that's the good news for low-income students. in reality, they often pay less at elite schools than they would at state schools, since many offer generous financial aid plans. and there's more good news: if
they do attend a top-tier college, 82% graduate, compared to just 49% of top students who go to non-selective colleges. aya waller-bey is on track to be one of those graduates. she was a leda scholar four years ago, then went on to georgetown university. she's now a senior, and has been mentoring other students from her hometown of detroit. >> there's actually two people from my high school that went through leda and who are currently now at georgetown. so i feel specifically connected to them, coming from the same school and same city. >> brown: is this now a sort of tradition at your high school? >> yeah. we try to start this pipeline of scholars to roll through leda and come to georgetown and other schools. so hopefully it will keep going. >> brown: now in its 11th year, leda says that some 75% of its scholars have enrolled in the nation's most competitive colleges, including 60 who've attended princeton. a success story, then, but on a very limited scale.
and shirley tilghman says far more financial and other support will be needed to address the larger program. the stakes, she thinks, couldn't be higher. >> when the ability to have movement across social class becomes virtually impossible, i think it is the beginning of the end of a country, because education is so critical to success in this country, if we don't figure out a way to create greater mobility across social classes, i do think it will be the beginning of the end. >> brown: in the meantime, this year's leda scholars have gone home to attend their final year of high school, keep up their grades, and prepare applications to top colleges and universities, once seemingly beyond their grasp. >> ifill: online, you can find more information about the leda program and hear from five students who describe their experiences so far.
>> woodruff: next, the debate over guns in america. six months after governor john hickenlooper signed a sweeping gun control measure in response to the school shooting in newtown, connecticut, and the massacre in an aurora, colorado, movie theater, two colorado state lawmakers are facing a recall election tomorrow. for more on the tuesday vote, which is attracting national attention and money, we turn to megan verlee with colorado public radio. >> welcome back to "the news hour." first of all, tell us, who behind this effort to go after these lawmakers and what started this whole thing? >> well, it started with a package of gun control legislation that our general assembly passed last spring, and the two most controversial elements were universal background checks for all gun sales, which closed the loophole
for gun sales for private individuals and the limit to the size of ammunition magazines to 15 rounds. those are the people that attracted a lot of public attention. the recall started at the grassroots level people in these districts upset with the policies but as you mentioned, very rapidly attracted large outside money and looking at $3.5 million spent in the districts so far. the bulk of that is coming from people owe bodying the recall and supporting the incumbent lawmakers. new york mayor michael bloomberg who is behind the group mayors against illegal guns has contributed about $350,000. eliblough, a philanthropist contributed about quarter million dollars and the nra has put in around $350 so far to try to get these state senators recalled. >> who are the state officials they're trying to recall?
why did they pick on these two? >> well, one of them is our state senate president john morris, a high target with this policy and a lawmaker who really spearheaded both of these bills. the other one is senator angela heron from pueblo in the southern part of the state, and she was not particularly active on this policy, although supportive of it. in her district he had opponents to get enough signatures to move forward with the recall efforts. there were recall efforts in a couple of other districts that did not get to the ballot. state senate president morris' case he comes from a close lir divided district and only won his election by a couple of hundred votes. >> right. >> so he is a high-profile target and seen as a vulnerable target. >> so governor hick.
>> the governor had support but did he and others pushing gun control misread the colorado electorate? >> i think we're waiting to find that out and the recall is obviously attracting huge amount of attention and looking further down the road. hickenlooper is looking for re-election and his popularity, which was high earlier in the year has taken a big hit and a lot of that is coming from voters who said we thought this was a moderate governor, we considered him partisan but his -- we see him as partisan, and he is losing support. >> how much discussion is there in colorado for how much this could spread to other parts of the country, because it seems to me that's what the outside groups are looking at.
>> exactly. for supporters of gun control, they really have to dig in their heels and throw money at this. so stiffen the backs of other politicians around the country that might be considering gun control legislation and are looking to colorado to find out if you can have a career after that. similarly if you're a supporter of gun rights, you really want to see the recalls succeed because that scene is putting a stop to gun legislation elsewhere and colorado being a purple state, a state with a very red conservative history, this is a much harder battleground than some of the eastern states which passed actually more restrictive gun control laws in the past year as well. >> megan vertically, colorado public radio. thank you. it's a vote we will all be watching tomorrow. >> thank you. >> ifill: again, the major developments of the day. president obama stepped up his
campaign to support for military action against syria. >> about having syria transfer its chemical weapons to outside control. he told "the news hour," if there is a way to accomplish that diplomatically, that is overwhelmingly my preference. at the same time, the president pressed his campaign to win congressional support for the use of force against syria. and syrian president bashar al-assad warned any strike at his recommend eem could bring retaliation from syrian allies. with open enrollment for health insurance exchanges just three weeks away, what questions do you have about the new system? we'll answer them on-air and online in the next few weeks. instructions for submitting your question are on our health page. and if you're thinking about filing for social security early, you may want to reconsider. our benefits guru crunches the numbers on making sense. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. and that's the newshour for tonight.
on tuesday, president obama addresses the nation to build public support for military action against syria. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. we'll see you online, and again here tomorrow evening. on behalf of all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: moving our economy for 160 years. bnsf, the engine that connects us. >> supported by the john d. and
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offer expert as it and solutions a wide range of industries. you?can we do for >> now "bbc world news." ♪ [ music ] >> this is a special addition of "bbc world news" america, capital, from the u.s. katie kay. syrian office wants to put control.weapons under the white house responds with skepticism. >> the knowledge to date doesn't give you a lot of confidence. lawmakers have hill to to capitol debate whether president barack obama should use military force the regime, we hear from both sides. and the secret life of a hair