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tv   Washington Week With Gwen Ifill  PBS  September 25, 2015 7:30pm-8:01pm PDT

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gwen: pope francis, chinese president xi jinping, and john boehner. three leaders making big news, all within 24 hours. we explore the impact tonight on "washington week. representative boehner: it's been an honor to serve in this institution. gwen: one day after the triumph of hosting the pope at the capitol, the house speaker takes washington by surprise, announcing he'll quit next month. what it means for politics and policy. meanwhile, pope francis takes the u.s. by storm, chiding congress gently. pope francis: legislative activity is always based on care for the people. gwen: embracing children and the poor, and making the moral case for refugee relief against the death penalty and on behalf of climate action.
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pope francis: god bless america! plus applause [applause] gwen: while at the white house, superpowers agree to cooperate on some things while waiting each other out on others. president obama: part of the deal of being on the world stage as a big country is that you have more to do. my gray hair testifies to that. gwen: and on the campaign trail, walker drops out, rubio and fiorina rise, and trump and carson stir the pot. dr. carson: i would not advocate that we put a muslim in charge of this nation. gwen: and clinton finally makes a decision on the keystone pipeline. secretary clinton: i oppose it. gwen: covering the week. dan balz, chief correspondent for the washington post, tom gjelten, religion correspondent for n.p.r., john harwood, chief washington correspondent for cnbc, and alexis simendinger, white house correspondent for real clear politics. announcer: award-winning reporting and analysis,
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covering history as it happens. live from our nation's capital, this is "washington week" with gwen ifill. corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by -- >> we asked people to tell us something that happened in their past and something that might happen in their future. the good things were put on yellow magnets and the bad on blue chip the results showed the past ways pretty even mix of good and bad, yet the futures with all good things. what does it mean to new >> we all want to think about positive stuff. >> realistically there will be down time. >> it the great to think optimistically, but let's plan for whatever the future might bring. funding : additional newman's own
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foundation. donating all profits to charity and nourish the common good. and by viewers like you. thank you. gwen: good evening. some weeks are so big that it takes the whole table to discuss it. tonight will be one of those nights. beginning with the precipitous political fall of house speaker john boehner. yesterday he met the pope. then he went home, told his wife he might quit today, woke up, went to starbucks, and then went to capitol hill to tell his staff, "today's the ay. speaker boehner: this turmoil that has been churning for a couple months is not good for the institution. my first job as speaker is to pro fekt the institution. gwen: what the speaker was hinting at there was that the institution he is in charge of, the house republican caucus, is in peril. and boehner himself was increasingly the target.
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check out what happened today at a meeting of conservative activist in washington when presidential candidate marco rubio broke the speaker's news. senator rubio: just a few minutes ago, speaker boehner announced that he would be resigning. [applause] gwen: that reaction only scratches the surface of what happened here. johnson, what did happen here? >> well, i think we reached a moment in the house which is sort of a bookend with what's going nonthe presidential campaign with donald trump and some of his supporters, which is that you have got a group of people within the republican party who are upset because they have not seen economic gains, they're concerned, fearful about the way the country is changing demographically, culturally and they want things that the political system and the republican leadership in washington cannot deliver. john boehner felt that crush of pressure.
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ever since he became the speaker, when they won the majority, he had members pressing him to confront obama, confront the democrats, pull off things that were beyond the power of the republican majority in the house to do. the new version of that fight came in the question of do we shut the government? can -- can we depfund planned parenthood? can we raise the debt limit? abandon the -- and the dissidents were pressing on john boehner, looking at him as somebody that was potentially going to sell them out again and so he stepped aside, as we heard in that clip, for the gven the institution he would step aside. now it's only foshort time. they still have to resolve the disconnect between what those members want and what is possible to achieve. gwen: dejump or was he pushed? is it a disteervingtion without a difference? -- distinction without a
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difference? and can that party govern? >> it's a basic question. you look back at 2010 when they had a big victory after lowsing -- losing in 20 off and 2008 and it looked like a party on a rebound. but in fact what we've seen since then is this is a party in great disarray, warring factions constantly at each other's throats. we're seeing that play out in the presidential race. how do you govern in this environment? the agenda of the tea party movement in particular and a lot of the younger members who came in in that period is to stop government, not to keep government moving the. this create real dissonance in the republican conversation. gwen: and it makes republicans incredibly happy. let's hear what the president had to stay about it today in the rose garden.
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>> the one thing i will say is that my hope is there's a recognition on the part of the next speaker, something i think john understood even though at times it was challenging to bring his caucus along, that we can have significant differences on issues but that doesn't mean you shut down the government. gwen: now, this has been a refrain for the democrats owl week, alexis, "they're going to shut down the government," which makes him very happy because it didn't work out well last time for the republicans. >> and the president was offering this idea that perhaps john boehner's caucus has learned some lessons. that was the words we heard in the rose garden but not the demeanor. allies were quick to say they're not expecting anything to change from the white house perspective no matter who is speaker for all the reasons we
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just heard john and dan scrifment the president has moved on and we can argue what these two men meant to each other or didn't, but the one thing that is very much the case is -- and that is john boehner and the weaknesses and vulnerabilities he had came to -- changed the way they governed in the second term. the president 4 to go around congress. he had to give up immigration, gun control, the aspirations for climate control eefpblet so much has changed for these two that why unsatisfactory to both of them. gwen: one thing we saw for sure, tom, was this was a big moment for boehner, getting the pope to come to capitol hill and i don't know, maybe something about this moment focused his mind? >> he told a reporter that this was something he had been working for for 20 years and now that he had accomplished it, that was the big triumph he had been waiting for.
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there are certainly these other 34ril8 factors that entered in but that was a very emotional encounter for john bainer. gwen: right. he said, "me, emotional?" [laughter] >> i will say one thing, i do think the short term is not irrelevant here. i talked to a republican member this afternoon who said john boehner's got five weeks left. he has become martyred in the cause. he is willing to do things he wouldn't do if his job were on the line. so we may be able to get a long-term spending deal, highway bill, re-authorize akse of the ex-im bank all is ossible the. gwen: only yesterday, pope francis was suggesting that our nation's leaders observe the golden rule -- do unto others as you would have them do unto you. leadership race? in this case, the pontiff was talking about the treatment of syrian refugees, but as he traveled from cuba to
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washington to new york city this week, he managed to it up every political and moral third rail, from abortion to marriage to climate change to immigration, while arguing that he is neither right nor left. >> there is another temptation which we must especially guard against the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil, or if you will, the righteous and sinners. gwen: the pontiff was embraced by everyone he encountered, especially here in washington, the land of simplistic reductionism. [laughter] gwen: tom, how did he walk that third rail? >> just listen to that voice. it's such a gentle voice. he projects such humility and people feel like it's a genuine humility. you mentioned he is talk by the
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golden rule in the context of sir yarn refugees. there's not a big push to bring but lot of syrian refugees that line got more applause than any other in the speech. gwen: my theory is they understood him. they were struggling to -- with the accent. >> well, if anyone else had said it, it would have sounded like empty words but somehow when he is saying it, you take it to heart. gwen: what did he come to america to do? >> he came -- you know, if you look at every speech he gave, beginning with the white house, he says, i am the often an imgrant. he goes to congress and says i, too, am a con of this continent -- i think he really wanted to get people to think in a much more inclusive way about who are americans? not just the people who settled on the east coast but people
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who settled in -- argentina. i think he wanted to expand our understanding of humanity and who should be part of this country. gwen: alexis, it's hard to say people are using him, but if he's standing next to the president, the president says i agree with him. if he's standing next to the speak've -- speaker of the louts -- hourks he says i agree with him is that ha we saw a little bit? ar am i being too harsh? >> i would say pope francis has a real knack for symbolism and communication that maybe some in washington admired. but you're right, it was clear in the greeting that probe enjoys this pope, whom he had met before. he leans in to him physically. to heartened for him to hear
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words that agreed. and the universal embrace o hearing that you -- what you want to hear but trying also i think to emulate his communication skill and utilize that. the moral, the moral frame in which he put the president's own political agenda. >> but you know, gwen, he's a master at uniting what seem to be contrary ideas from the left and the right. he would talk about, make an allusion to abortion and immediately follow it with a comment about the death penalty. gwen: which is consistent when you think about it. >> of course it is. it's been a consistent part of catholic doctrine fora long time. but you talk about the family being under threat, maybe he's going to talk about same-sex marriage and then he could -- would go to the family being threatened by income inequality. he would bring these issues together in a very artful way. gwen: and what he said about immigration in particular, we are all grim -- immigrants, how
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does that reverberate in this particular political environment we're in? >> well, it strengthens the hand of those who say we need to have comprehensive immigration and we need to lower the temperature of the debate over this. put aside where he stands on it, the way he speaks about these issues versus the way donald trump speaks about these issues is night and day and i felt one of the most interesting things he said was when he spoke to the bishops here in washington on wednesday just after he had been at the white house and one of the things he was saying to them was you have to be pastors and you have to speak to people in a certain way. harsh language is never the right way to do it. so he is able, as tom said, to talk about very controversial issues and he has a controversial agenda but he's able to do it because he speaks without harshness. gwen: and he's also able to
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soften his tone. in other parts of the world he's been a lot tougher than he was here about exactly the came -- same issues, especially capitalism. we have to move on. as we sit here tonight people far fancier than we are over at the white house attending a state dinner for chinese president xi jinping. it is surely a lovely evening, but no formal toast can overshadow the unresolved issues between the two superpowers. for instance, presidents obama and xi agreed to reduce emissions and slow climate change. but when it came to cyber theft, which has stirred great east-west suspicion, the promises were considerably more vague. >> we have jointly affirmed the principle that governments don't engage in cyber espionage for commercial gain against companies. that all, i consider to be progress. the question now is, are words followed by actions? gwen: but that was not the only open-ended question today. alexis? >> no, and it was interesting because what did president xi
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get out of this? he really got full panoply of the united states giving him this 21-gun salute and the state visit and all of that, which is very important to him in his country. what did the president get out of it? the president was really heralding something that they talked very little about today but we've talked a lot about this week, and that is climate change. that china, as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, came together with the united states in a way that will bolster both countries when they go later on this year to climate summit. china's agreed to do a cap and trade, you know, policy in china, which they've been working on in pilot program for a year. >> in the senate in china? >> very interesting because the
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president could p get this through here in the united states. and the president was talking about trying to encourage india to think in the same way. the president will be meeting modi in the united nations this weekend. so what was interesting, they didn't really come to in a agreement on cyber. keep in mind when the president goes to the -- to new york this week, he will stay in a different hotel. why? gwen: because he thinks the chinese are spying on him. >> the choice bought the waldorf astoria where he used to stay. but they agreed on one narrow issue, about the south china sea. the president basically said stay out of it, this is an ancient recognition that this is chinese territorial waters. gwen: the other thange -- thing that's cast a shadow over this visit is the chinese stock market has really been taking a hit. did they agree not to talk
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about it today? >> i think that was not the focal point of the visit. but it's the backdrop of the visit because weakness in china, it's really interesting, on the presidential campaign trail president obama talks about the chinese eating our lump. in fact we want the chinese economy to be doing better because when the chinese economy slows down, the world economy slows down. so there is an interesting balance where the united states wants china to trade with us in a fair way, rebalance their economy, build up the consumer part, not so much emphasis on exports at the expense of american manufacturers but we do want china to be doing better and no one is quite sure how to -- how much to trust the assessments of the economy from the government. gwen: i wonder, you spent some
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time there this year. is it very, very different? >> chinese people and chinese leaders really want their country to be recognized as being on the same par as the united states and any other great power. so those from that point of view i think they are really important. there is an incredible sensitivity in china to yishese -- issues of sovereignty and nationalism. the south china sea, we think chinese assertiveness in the south china sea is aggressive. that's an issue that draws tremendous popular support in china. it the very important to understand that the chinese people feel they once were recognized as having a great civilization, they've really been mistreated for the last 100 years and now they're really eager to get back on the front lines again. gwen: i wonder whether we're beginning to look at all these bi lateral roippeds in terms of the president's legacy?
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>> i think everything he does in the last 14, 15 months of his presidency is going to be put in that box and looked at in one of those ways. i think his rellses with congress, with the russians, with the chinese and everything else, we will be looking at as a possible piece of his legacy. gwen: and of course that's exactly the interpretation they resist at the white house. >> oh, absolutely. exactly. gwen: we can't resist. >> no. gwen: and we've reached the point in the 2016 contest where elbows are landing. marco rubio is beginning to push back against donald trump. trump is pushing back once again against fox news and against his competitors. mr. trump: you have this clown, marco rubio. i've been so nice to him and then, he's in favor of immigration. and he hads been. it was the gang of eight. you remember the gang of eight. it was terrible.
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then he went down in the polls. gwen: and wisconsin governor scott walker has dropped out entirely, but not without a final call to clear the field. governor walker: i encourage other republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same so that the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive conservative alternative to the current frontrunner. gwen: so far, no takers. dan? what really happened with scott walker? why dereally drop out? >> well, two things. one is he has -- was not quite prepared for the campaign. he got a big burst of attention because he gave a very strong speech in iowa earli in the year to a group of conservatives and it kind of rocketed him to the top tier of the race i think before he was ready for it. since then he's made a number of mistakes on his own. he's changed his position on issues, had to backtrack on
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some things. there was a question about was he ready? the second is he was totally overshadowed by donald trump. when trump got into the race, walker was the leader in iowa and since then he's gone down dramatically. in this environment, very tough for candidates because of the competition for money, if your poll numbers go down, the money dries up. that's what he found. he had a deficit of $700,000 in his campaign. he had a budget that was going to cost $1 million a month and no prospect he was going to be able to raise it and he pulled the plug the gwen: who benefits from the plug being pulled? >> it's hard to say. i think rubio will benefit in some ways. jeb bush has picked off some of his people. the truth is by the time he got out he did not have that much support in terms of exoshte -- voteers. everyone is going after his super pac donors.
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that's going to be spread around >> you did an interview him that week. does he seem to be poised to jump in? >> i got no sense from jeb bush that he's ready to get out of the race. scott walker's invitation. gwen: you don't think scott walker is really talking to jeb though? >> no. but there is a reason to stay around and to think that jeb will be around for quite a long time. he has continued to be annoyed by the needling from donald trump. we talked about his paleodiet. he's lost 30 pounds. i said, well, maybe that makes you low energy. he said no, i'm high energy. when i campaign i don't just ride down the escalator and have a press conference. i'm out pounding the pavement. gwen: jeb bush did an interview in which he said he was asked in south carolina how he was going to win the black vote and
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his response was, "well, i'm not going to give them free stuff." what was that? >> it's an echo of what he said in 1197 when he was asked, what are you going to do for blacks in florida? he said, "probably nothing." that was saying i'm not going to approach this from identity politics. he was trying to signal people that i'm not somebody who is going to be loose with government purse strings. gwen: i want to talk about democrats before we run out of time. we saw hillary clinton come out and talk about the keystone pipeline. she is against it. p and bern esanders is ahead, really, really ahead in new hampshire? >> he's crept up in iowa as ll and in some national polls he's crept up, though she still -- lead tty good leads
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in almost all the national polls. there is no question he's a force and i think the clinton campaign recognizes that and there will continue to be a debate within the campaign about how you confront that and when. i think everybody is atping the debate in las vegas in mid-october will be the moment at which this could happen and then you've got, of course. vice president biden kind of lurking on the sidelines. maybe he's going to get in. maybe he's not. but that's another factor roiling the democratic race. gwen: so much going on that we can't get to all of it. it breaks my heart! we have to go now, but as always, the conversation continues online on the "washington week" webcast extra where, among other things, we'll preview the president's meeting next week with russian president putin. you can find it later tonight and all week long at the bsdorian pbs.org/washingtonweek.
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and before we go tonight, we want to introduce you to the newest member of the washington week family -- river jude brickey, who makes our production manager tom dombro a proud granddad. congrats as we to river's parents, julian and lalah. keep up with developments with judy woodruff and me on the pbs newshour and we'll see you here next week on "washington week. ood night. announcer: corporate funding for "washington week" is rovided by -- prudential the additional funding is provided by newman's own foundation. donating all profit to charity and nourirk the common good. additional funding is provided by the corporation for public
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good evening and welcome to kqed "newsroom." i'm thuy vu. after years of losing statewide races the california republican party is trying a new approach to move voters. that approach runs counter to the message top gop presidential candidates are sending. here's california politics and government editor john meyers. >> reporter: there may be no republican candidate who's following and fighting against the flow of national political news these days more than rocky chavez. >> i'm running for u.s. senate. >> good luck. >> reporter: chavez is a state assembly man from oceanside and the candidate for the u.s. senate seat being vacated by barbara boxer. the former

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