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tv   Washington Week With Gwen Ifill  PBS  October 9, 2015 7:30pm-8:01pm PDT

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>>the house republican leadership race becomes a meltdown.... hillary clinton splits with president obama... the united states gives up on one key strategy in syria... and a polarized supreme court sits down to argue again... i'm john harwood in for gwen ifill tonight....on washington week. >>i think i shocked some of you huh? shhh. >> chaos in the house as the presumed successor to speaker john boehner drops out of the running. >> we should put this conference first. and i think there's something to be said for us to unite, we probably need a fresh face. john: but who might that fresh face be? all eyes are on this man. meanwhile, hillary clinton again distances herself from the president, this time on his pacific trade pact >> what i know about it, as of today, i am not in favor of what i have learned about it. john: flip-flop, evolution or
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political calculation? overseas, the u.s. admits training syrian rebels against the assad regime isnt working,while at the same time, russia steps up its engagement eff upsetting the u.s. ands its nay toe allies. >> it's unacceptable, it's dangerous and it's reckless behavior and it adds to the tensions. john: the strategy shift in syria now that putins military is fully engaged. and at the supreme court, the first monday in october brings a docket with politically charged cases on voting rights, affirmative action and abortion. a look at the new term. covering the week, reid wilson, chief political correspondent and congress editor for morning consult. anne gearan , political correspondent for the washington post, michael crowley, senior foreign affairs correspondent for politico, and joan biskupic, legal affairs editor for reuters. >> award winning reporting and analysis covering history as it happens. from our nations
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capitol. this is washington week with gwen ifill. corporate funding for washington week is provided by prudential -- provided by -- >> we asked them to tell us what happened in their past and -- the results show the past was a pretty even mix of good and bad. yet the future was almost all good things. now you've seen the results of this experiment, what does it mean to you? >> we all want to think about positive stuff. >> realistically, there will be down times. gee it's great think optimistically but let's plan for whatever the future might bring. additional funding is also
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-- once again, sitting in for gwen ifill this week john harwood. . hn: good evening if you were shocked two weeks agowhen house speaker john boehner announced hisresignation, well, house republicans were just getting started. majority leader kevin mccarthy looked like theclear heir apparentbut he angered his party bysuggesting in an interview the house benghazi committeewas designed to damage hillaryclinton politically, and thenconservatives revolted >> we were looking at 'how dowe work together?' we're looking for a speaker who works withconservatives rather than against us john: those hard-liners forcedmccarthy to abandonhis bid for the speakership, but they attracted acrimony themselves. the next speaker shouldnot appease those who make unreasonable demands. there area number of members of our conference who simply cannot getthe yes on anything. john: that leaves republicans
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scrambling and struggling to find a consensus candidate reid, this revives memories of the late 1990s when will they lost newt gingrich and his dez ig designated successor were forced out back to back. how did it happen again? >> it's about whether you negotiate, not about ideology? >> that's right. it's about agreing with democrats to get something done. there's so many big issues that congress faces right now. plus-pass deadlines that are coming up before the end of the year and a significant number of republicans have this feeling that their leaders in congress simply aren't fighting hard enough. that's what cost john boehner his job two weeks ago. it's now what has cost kevin mccarthy his shot at a speakership, a job he's wanted
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for most of his adult life. john: which of course the fact that it cost mccathy the speakership keeps boehner in the speakership longer? >> he'll be there for possibly another couple of months while they figure this out. >> what happens now? if it's paul ryan or anyone else, won't they face the same sorts of things that the two past -- john harwood and -- john boehner and kevin mccarthy faced? >> it requires 218 votes to be elected speaker of the house. that means you can only lose 29 before you can't be elected. the house freedom caucus said this would be endorsing a different candidate over mccarthy. mccarthy could have won a house majority of the republicans but
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not necessarily a majority of the house at large. that would have forecasted a fight. we've started to hear some house freedom caucus members question paul ryan's credentials. >> do you think anyone can do this job? >> in a word, no. it is very difficult to see how anybody shepherds a very divided republican conference. on one side you've got sort of the institutionalists, the people who come to show that the republican party is able to govern, able to pass its legislation, even if president obama is opposed. on the other hand, you've got people who want to see president obama have to veto everything. they want to see the affordable care act -- i mean, every republican in the house wants to see the affordable care act passed. a handful of them, however, ecognize that that's not going to happen. there is a divide here between the people who see the political
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writing on the wall and the people who want to fight and die on that hill, anyway. >> reid, to anne's question, is there any reason to take seriously thed idea that you may have -- for the first time i've ever seen, a situation where the majority of republicans would make common cause with some subgroup of democrats and elect a speaker who would serve and bypass that group that won't go along? >> that has been suggested by charlie dent, the second person you saw in the voice over there. they've identified some possible candidates. there are some members who are retiring who might make for a good temporary speaker at least. congressman john klein of minnesota has come up. congresswoman candice miller of michigan has come up and a few others here and there. it is impossible to get to 218 with democratic votes if that's just sort of a caretaker position. john: but the last time we got that, it turned out to be dennis
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hastert and he was speaker for eight years. >> is this chaos going to spill into the substantive issues? >> this is the threat they face now. the thing on thursday would have -- a week later, the nation's going to hit its borrowing limit. there's no speak certificate other than john boehner, so there are still these giant massive dead lines, the highway trust fund is about toe run out. the government funding ends on december 1. there's huge issues on the table and nobody who's really grabbed the leadership. the benefit of having john boehner there is he can take a lot of political heat and get everything off the table and he won't have to answer to a lieutenant of republicans. john: is that what you expect to happen? >> that's what i expect to happen. that's good news for people worried about the country hitting the debt limit.
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>> jump on the grenade. >> yeah. >> thanks. what about hillary clinton? she got a huge gift. >> the republicans finally admit. >> republican kevin mccarthy is saying the committee investigating benghazi and clinton's e-mails were created to destroy her candidacy. john: then hillary clinton reversed her previous support and told judy wood rough she opposes the deal. >> i have said from the very beginning that we had to have a trade agreement that would create good american jobs, raise wages, and advance our national security. and i still believe that's the high bar we have to meet. i have been trying to learn as much as i can about the agreement. but i'm worried. john: and the words that keep ringing in my ear are hillary clinton saying gold standard
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over and over. >> yes. john: what happened? >> well, in 2012 when she called this pacific trade deal the gold standard of modern trade deals, she also specifically said that it would build in job protections. and she is now hanging her reversal on the fact that according to her, there aren't significant or enough built-in job protections. if anything, what happened between 2012 and now is that some of those things got actually more worker friendly, more u.s.-worker friendly. so what she -- what happened is she announced for president and she's got a debate coming up next week, and all -- john: is there any chance that this is driven by the substance and the merits? >> well, i can only say what she says, which is that it's driven on the substance of the merits. however, there really isn't a specific substantive thing that forensically, if you go through the deal, that you could point
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to that would be different enough that would appear to support that switch. it certainly appears to be a political switch, not unlike the one she made on nafta when she was running in 2007 and 2008. and the timing is important here. every other democrat on that debate stage on tuesday has said that they are against it. and the democrat who likely isn't going to be on the stage, biden is for it, and not only for it, he's been a point man for the administration in trying to round up democratic support, a thankless task, by the way. but she will be boxing him in. by saying she's against it now, that neutralizes it as a debate issue and it also means that he's the outliar. >> is this a more significant break from the obama administration than other past things that we've talked about on past shows, on immigration policy or on the health care so-called cadillac stacton tax? >> yeah.
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>> so there's a need to bring this in on tuesday? >> that's a really good question. in several other insfanses where she has done something different than the white house, it's been different by degree for the most part. she supports almost the entire affordable care act act and logs it to the end of the year but she would go against this one piece of it, about the cadillac tax. this isn't an about-face. this is a rejection of something that not only sit a huge deal for the white house it's something they worked -- she worked directlyly on and championed for them when she was secretary of state. >> how concerned is the clinton campaign worried? >> they're clearly worried and those are the two against near practicing. those are the two they think might seek a moment. it's basically going to be them against her, all other four of them against her.
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and they'll all try to take shots at her. they'll all try to make her look bad. they'll try to get her mad or say something embarrassing. >> how about this upcoming hearing about the benghazi committee? is this going to be a huge turning point? >> well, the campaign actually now thinks it's a good thing. i mean, they have sort of pretended to say that it's a good thing in the past like we want to be transparent, she'll go out there and answer every question. she'll stay until the last dog is dead, all night, if they want, she'll answer every question, but that was before the kevin mccarthy gift wrapped cup cake that they got where they used to have to say -- they being hillary clinton and her aides -- used to have to sort of say that this was the real thing, this -- you know, benghazi appearance was actually sort of maybe in the service of finding facts and now they can go back to saying what they really have thought all along
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which is that it's a political exercise, and they think she comes out on top. john: the other thing she did this week is announce some wall street regulations. she's been flanked to the left by o'malley and sanders on that. is she now believing that she could actually lose this nomination? we've been operating on the presumption that of course she's going to be the nominee. you see all these moves and you think are they nervous? >> well, they are nervous. she should be. she's had a terrible slide in the two states that are spending the most money and i the most time. that's opinion the basis of their campaign strategy is shore up iowa and new hampshire, you know, have a rock solid position in both of those playses, and she doesn't. she's losing in new hampshire and barely winning in iowa. >> a bunch of southern primaries after that, though. >> absolutely. and then their fallback is -- yeah, but every state after that, she's good, she is ahead
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in every state like that. particularly if you look at the southern super tuesdays, march 1 and march 15 states, she's in very good positions there. however, it would not be a good solid front running position to go out and lose either or both of the first two states. >> it will be a fun race to watch on tuesday. now, the stepped up military engagement confounds the u.s. and its allies. that would put president obama's objectives at odds with vladimir putin's. then today defense secretary ashton carter says it isn't working. >> i wasn't satisfied with the early efforts in that regard, so we're looking at different ways to achieve basically the same kind of strategic objective, which is the right one, which is to enable capable, motivated
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forces on the ground to retake territory from isil and reclaim southeastern territory from extremism -- syrian territory from extremism. >> where does that leave the policy? >> i would say it's ending with a whimper, except it's a bang. the bang is russian missiles falling on syria and confounding the house. president obama over the last couple of years has had two major foreign policy crises. one is the quagmire in jeer and what do you do with it. and the other is how do you deal with the resurging russian nationalism. there are no good answers coming out of the white house. i think you have to be sympathetic even if they're -- you don't think they are handling it as well as they should. it's been clear for a while that it wasn't working. president obama announced it a
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year ago when he announced we were leading this multi-nation campaign to degrade and destroy isil isis. that's been through air strikes and syria, but we are also going to train these syrian rebels -- >> while we were kind of pushed into that by all our critics, right? >> theancht i think president obama has always felt there's very little we can do on the ground in syria. the key thing about the program is it was never meant to go after bashar al-assad. they were only supposed to be fighting isis. that was more about iraqi and stabilizing the iraqiy government and stamps out isis. it was about that and not trying to topple the syrian dictator. so goodbye to this program or they're slightly repurposing it or keeping it alive by sending equipment to some rebel leaders
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in the field but fundamentally, it's a failure and the timing is less than ideal. it comes at a moment where it looks like the obama administration is on its heels. putin has the initiative in syria. it has nothing to do with what putin is doing, actually. just in general it looks like we're on our heels and that is a problem, because there is a -- psychological component and we're losing that right now. >> are you saying that the war can actually end during the obama administration or is the next president going to have to deal with it? >> i talked to a former administration official today who says this problem is going to be handed off in an even worse state than it is right now. it's probably only going to get worse. there's not enough time for the president to resolve in it a very positive way. you know, you start to -- there's no question about they're talking about the
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president's legacy at the white house. they added a high note in the summer when they did the iran deal. that will definitely be part of his historical legacy. >> and the trade pact? >> yes, trade pact. i think increasingly it's looking like syria will be right there at the top of the list in the down air roe column. they have to be concerned about that. >> ukraine. >> yeah. >> there was news this week a little bit better than what's happening in syria. >> nobody's talking about ukraine. it's been frozen in place where the pro-russia separatists in the east can continue to hold territory. there's a cease fire that's tenuous. one of the president's key agenda items when he met with vladimir putin in new york at the united nations a couple of weeks ago was to try to get the separatist rebels -- essentially, long story short -- undermine elections in a way that was going to cause problems. that had a possibility of
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pulling down the whole cease fire. the rebels will postpone or abandon that plan and that's actually a little bit of good news. john: what is the next step in syria? as you say, it sounds like things get much worse than before they get better. >> what i'm told is a lot of ideas in play, but nothing really -- there's no silver bullet. no one really feels like there's a clear light at the end of the tunnel. the question is how do you reinsert america in the region without initiating a shooting conflict with russia which could be very dangerous. john: the last term of the supreme court ended with tension over the justices. now we have fresh arguments on topics.itically charged is this court about to get more
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polarized? >> just think what we've got headed into the election year. abortion could be on the agenda. we already have affirmative action, voting rights, the power of public sector unions. a lot of big cases already there with others coming and will be taken all the way through january and all come home to roost in june right before we'll have the conventions and then the november election. i'll mention what they've already got. affirmative action on campuses, case brought by a young woman by the name of abigail fisher. didn't get into the university of texas at austin. ended up at lsu. she sued saying the reason she was excluded was because of a university of texas admission policy that would somehow favor someone based on their racial background. the justices had this case in 2012, 2013.
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at first they punted. they were going to rule against university of texas. justice sewed meyer caused the conservatives to back down a bit by a scathing opinion. they sent it back down to the lower court and the lower court says, new york city we still think it's ok. affirmative actions really divides these justices. separately from texas, a good voting rights case that tests the one person-one vote principle and in the end could shift power away from urban centers where there are more hispanics out to more rural whites. >> when do we find out if they're going to take this case? >> this starts in texas, also. it's a law that legislators passed a come of years ago. the key things there that are underchallenge, one is that if clinics have to be -- physicians who do abortions at clinics have
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to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and they should be am torrey surgical centers, too, the challengers say, look, this is going to cause so many clinics to shut down in texas, both sides have now submitted their briefers. the state says, look, we're just interested in the care of women. the challengers saying, no, you really want to end abortion. we'll know by the end of the year. >> john roberts promised he'd be the umpire rather than the partisan judge. now, more americans think the court is polarized. how has he changed that? >> it's mixed. on things like race like we have coming up with affirmative action and voting rights, he's zintly where you would have seen him when he was working for reagan. he does not like racial classifications. he says the way to stop
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discriminating based on race is to stop discriminating based on race. >> in the last term, the liberals mad some decisions they were happy with. maybe that's not going to last? >> liberals had their best turn in years. that will not last. i think it was the nature of the cases. we knew where the judges were headed on same-sex marriage, for example. the challenge to obama care was extreme, but now we've got enough challenges where key vote justice anthony kennedy is going to move more to the right. >> we've got a couple of justices who are up there and maybe not in the best of health. we've got justice ginsburg this past year had a bit of a -- how many health crises are this for her? >> but she's a survivor. she's 82. if any of them go before the election, it will be not of their own accord. if they leave, i think republicans could run the clock and not have somebody succeed
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them. right now everybody is healthy and everybody looks like he or she are staying there. >> the supreme court may even be older than the senate. i'm not sure. >> in terms of the people? >> the united states senate, the average age of senators is pretty well up there. >> oh, yeah. if you're in the 60's at the supreme court, you're young. >> you're kidding? >> yes. i'm not kidding, no, no. 60's, 70's, that's nothing. john paul stevens who retired in 2010, he was 930 and he could have kept going. >> thanks, guys. thanks, everybody. that will have to wrap it up for tonight. the conversation continues on the washington week webcast extra where we'll discuss how hillary clinton is prepping for a possible joe biden candidacy. i'm john harwood, gwen will be back around the table next week on show shove. good night. -- on "washington week." good night.
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cloimp >> corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by -- prudential. aadditional fund is provided by newman's own foundation, donating all profits from newman's own food products to charity, and nourishing the common good, the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your public station from viewers like you. thank you.
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good evening. welcome to kqed newsroom. on toptnight's show, the presidential race, tech companies and tax havens and jerry brown's difficult decision. first el nino. temperatures in the pacific ocean are already well above average. this video compares the sea surface temperatures to those in 1997, which saw a historic el nino. government scientists predict that the current el nino will peak in january and february. they are forecasting above average precipitation in california. while california needs the rain, a strong el nino could exacerbate a problem that's grown worse since the drought began.

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