tv Meet the Press MSNBC October 5, 2015 1:00am-2:01am PDT
i'm chris hansen. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for joining us. . this sunday, another mass shooting. and the question -- why does america lead the pack? is there anything to be done to stop gun violence? plus my latest it isdown with donald trump and his surprising comments about what it would take to drop out. >> i'm not a mass kis and if i was dropping in the polls where i saw that i wasn't going to win, why would i continue? also, is trump holding his lead? is clinton holding off bernie sanders? we have new numbers out of iowa and new hampshire.
and russia joins the fight in syria. >> putin realize there is's going to be no push back whatsoever from the united states. >> has the u.s. ceded the upper hand? joining me are mark leibovich, amy holmes of the blaze, ruth marcus of the "washington post" and rich lowry of the national review. welcome to sunday, it's "meet the press." good sunday morning. this week roseburg, oregon, joined the roll call of american towns that have suffered a mass shooting. nine victims from 18 to 67 gunned down on a community college campus. jason johnson. serena daun moore, lucero alcaraz, rebecca carnes, quinn cooper, trevin taylor, lawrence
levine and kim dietz. familiar questions about how this could have happened and what it means for the battle over the issue of guns in america. we'll get to all of the politics in just a moment but for the latest i want to go to nbc's miguel almaguer who is in roseburg. migu miguel, i want you to address -- we heard from the shooter's father who decided to weigh in on the gun debate. tell me more about it. >> absolutely. chuck. the gunman's father, 26-year-old chris harper mercer, unloaded several rounds inside the campus behind me. police say he was heavily armed. we now know he told students inside that classroom to get together, to lie in the center of the classroom and then began shooting them. he told one lucky survivor, he said apparently according to his victims that they would pass on a manifesto to police that would lead them to more information about the shooting. as you mentioned, the victim's father is also speaking out for the first time about gun violence and his son. here's what he said. >> how on earth could he compile
13 guns? how can that happen? they talk about gun laws, they talk about gun control. every time something like this happens they talk about it and nothing is done. i'm not trying to say that that's to blame for what happened but if chris had not been able to get ahold of 13 guns, it wouldn't have happened. >> chuck, this is sparking a national debate but interestingly enough, shortly after that interview with cnn we spoke to a victim survivor here at the hospital and she said she believes more people should be carrying guns inside campuses like this one. so it's an interesting debate even after all of the bloodshed and massacre here. it's igniting the country. >> miguel almaguer, this is a debate whether is it about gun control or gun-free zones? we'll get to that. let me go to data. according to mass shooter tracker data which defines a
mass shooting as an incident where four or more people are shot there have been 294 mass shootings alone, nearly a thousand since the database was created in the wake of the sandy hook shooting. that's more than one a day. the u.s. has a gun homicide rate nearly four times higher than switzerland, six times canada, 16 times germany, 21 times australia and 49 times the rate in france. but the high profile shootings haven't shifted views on gun control. though 87% of americans favor expanded background checks, last year for the first time in more than two decades it's a higher percentage of americans, 52%, who said it was more important to protect the right of americans to own guns than to control gun ownership. we saw the divide play out this week beginning with a visibly frustrated president who admitted he was politicizing the issue. >> somehow this has become routine. what's also routine is that somebody somewhere will comment and say obama politicized this
issue. well, something something we should politicize. >> on the campaign trail, republican candidates responded and sounded strikingly similar. >> i always find it interesting that the reflexive reaction on the left is to say we need more gun laws. criminals don't follow gun laws, only law abiding people follow gun laws. >> gun control only works for normal law abiding citizens. it doesn't work for crazies. >> you take guns away from people who are law abiding, the people who cause these horrible things will still have them. >> before we start calling for more laws i think we ought to consider why we don't enforce the laws we have. >> it's very sad to see but i resist the notion and i did -- i had this challenge as governor because we had -- look, stuff happens. there's always a crisis. and the impulse is always to do something and it's not necessarily the right thing to do. >> and on friday i sat down with the republican front-runner donald trump and asked him to react to the president's
statement on the shooting. >> well, you know, i watched his statement and i understand exactly what he's saying but you know, no matter what you do, guns, no guns, it doesn't matter, you have people that are mentally ill and they're going to come through the cracks and they're going to do things people won't even believe are possible and whether it's the school shootings which are really very prevalent in this country, they seem to be more prevalent in this country. >> what's your explanation? >> they're just sick people. they are mentally imbalanced and they probably see it happening here more so. >> do you think we have more mentally ill people than other countries? >> i think we have of copycats, they watch it and see it here and the world can be a sick place in so many different ways but we have mentally very unstable people and that will lead. it's not politically correct to say, you can have the best security, you can have the best everything but people are able to get in and do this -- you know, just terrible damage. >> this is a startling
statistics. 153,000 people have died from gunshots since 9/11. and counting 9/11, up to -- just over 3,000 people have died from terrorist attacks. the president's point is we have devoted all these energies to prevent terrorism. should there be a sense of urgency on this? >> so the way i look at it, you take chicago, you take baltimore, you take various other places where you have tremendous gun violence and death, right? the strictest laws in the united states, in the world, for guns happens to be chicago where they have a lot of problems. baltimore, a lot of the places where you have the biggest problem is where they have the strongest laws. >> but local laws without a national floor are pointless. >> but the problem you have is the strongest, the most stringent laws are in almost every case the worst places. it doesn't seem to work. it's a tough situation, chuck. it's a tough situation and when i know it comes to the schools it's mental health. it's a mental problem. >> you don't believe this is
a -- we have too many guns? do you think there's too many guns in america? >> you could make the case that the school that we just went through and i see was a gun-free zone and you were not allowed to have guns at fall that particular area and you can make the case that it would have been a lot better had people had guns because they had something to fire back. >> you say you can make the case. do you make the case? >> well, i would say it couldn't be much worse. i think the police did a great job, they got there quickly and they were able to kill him but you can -- i can make the case that if there were guns in that room other than his fewer people would have died. fewer people would have been so horribly injured. >> we'll get to the rest of my interview with donald trump on his tax plan, how he plans to pay for it, the middle east, wait until you hear his position there, and what make him decide to get out of the race someday. that's coming up in a few minutes. but first let's bring back the panel. mark leibovich of the "new york times" magazine, amy holmes, news anchor for the blaze, that's the glenn beck television network, ruth marcus columnist in for the "washington post" and rich lowry, editor of the
"national review" let me show up that statistic of the number of people that have died from terrorist attacks and the number of people that have died from l proposals for solutions, should we have a sense of urgency with the equivalency of the way we tackle terrorism? >> well, it's the core responsibility of the government to protect us from foreign enemies. the reason the gun debate is going nowhere and is so sterile is anything you do at the margins is not going to stop these kind of mass shootings and anything could do that would be much more sweeping is going to run afoul of a fundamental constitutional right to bear arms. >> it's interesting, ruth, i went ahead and did -- we looked up, the requirements for getting a car, essentially, registering a car and the requirements for getting a permit for a gun, all 50 states you have to get a license or permit to drive a car, 13 states for a gun. all 50 states require various forms of testing to drive a car. six states require it to get a
gun permit. and with a car you register regularly, sometimes on a yearly basis, sometimes biyearly, only six states require that. is that unfair? as rich pointed out in the constitution, there's no right to drive a car in the constitution. >> yes. and rich really correctly points out the cruel paradox here which is that the measures that would be most effective are also the most politically unimaginable and unconstitutional. but rich you mistake the total role of government. it's not simply to protect us from foreign enemies. it's to make sure we have a safe and livable environment and to quote jeb bush, too much stuff is happening on guns. so we need within the constraints of public opinion and the constraints of the constitution to figure out solutions to keep us safe. i have two daughters on college campuses. i watch these things and i am terrified and i think whatever
your political view point is you should be terrified and simply to say that there's crazy people and stuff happens is abdicating government's responsibility. >> amy, what is the sense of urgency that we should have? >> i think we should have a sense of urgency about what do we do with these angry misfit malcontents who we also know are inspired by watching the news about mass shootings. mass shootings tend to happen in clusters, they often telegraph, advertise their intention to commit this violence. so when i look at the debate being routine or sterile or stale as you're putting it, rich, it shifts immediately to gun control and not other issues surrounding mass shooters and what can we do to try to prevent these mainly young men from committing these violent acts? >> well, should there be more hurd hurdles? yes the mental health issue but -- >> it's more than mental health. it's the fame they're seeking, the notoriety they're seeking, the way media plays into that, by turning them into
celebrities. most of them say -- it's fascinating and disturbing -- that they want to be famous. >> there's no doubt there's a media role. i don't want to mention the guy's name anymore. he's been mentioned once, i'm not going to voice his name. but as the president points out, we're not the only country with crazy people. >> that's true. look, the president had this entire debate with himself. >> you saw it. >> he anticipated all of the tropes unfolding over a several day period all of which has happened. he anticipated what the republican presidential candidates would say, what congress would say. the issue is politicized. i don't even -- when he said they should politicize the issue, it is politicized, it's politicized because the nra pretty much owns more than half of congress. that is why this issue is basically immutable. you mentioned the constitution, public opinion. the other piece is the political impossibility of anyone -- >> i have a challenge. can you name me the last candidate who lost because they weren't for gun control? that's a lot of silence here. i mean, that's -- if you want to
know when the politics would change, right, rich lowry? i can list you dozens of candidates who've lost because of their position because they were too pro gun control. the. >> the nra represents real people which is why it's so powerful and what i really objected to in the president's statement, i don't mind politicizing an issue where we have a debate about public policy, that's what politics is, but it's the sense he gave that there's some magic button that we can be pushed and we all know what it is and that we don't have the political will to push it. you look at the specific things the left tends to talk about that are more marginal, universal background checks. well, a lot of these guys passed the background checks we already have because they don't have prior records. the assault weapons ban lapse -- >> should we have a higher level of background checks? >> if someone hasn't committed a crime or been add jujudicated wa mental disorder, in the second amendment, you won't prevent people from buying a gun.
>> there is no perfect solution but there are marginal improvements. limit the size of magazines, that would have stopped shared loughner from killing as many people before he stopped to reload. make the background checks so it's not automatic that you get it if it's not completed in three days, that might have stopped dylann roof from having his guns. we have to do something. just because no solution is perfect doesn't mean there's nothing we should do. >> these aren't impulse killers. they're people who are sitting and stewing and i think amy's point is an important one. columbine created a cultural norm where if you're disturbed and disaffected you go out in a blaze of infamy. we need to disempower that norm. >> and give families tools that if they have one of these young men under their roofs that they are able to address it. >> i'm going to pause this debate because we'll never end it. it's one of those where everybody should admit they would be willing to put everything on the table. we'll be back with the rest here's a little healthy advice. take care of what makes you, you.
welcome back and now to the rest of my interview with donald trump beginning with the tax plan he released that analysts say would blow an enormous hole in the deficit -- anywhere from $10 trillion to $12 trillion. >> everybody's taxes are going down and some people won't pay tax and the reason they won't pay -- and i love the idea of having a little sort of fat in the game, if we can, but the fact is these are people that are doing very poorly. i mean, they're making not a lot of money and we're saving a tremendous amount of administrative costs and other things by not making them pay.
under my plan, i think it's a very dynamic plan, we're going to grow the economy. hey, if china does it 7% having a terrible year, we're saying we can't do it 3% and 4%. >> we just had 4% last quarter. >> well, we also had zero percent the first quarter. >> i understand, but we had 4% the last quarter. >> a little less than 4%. >> 3.9%. >> it was what? >> 3.9% last quarter. >> but if you look at the overall average, we're doing less than 2% for the year. so we can do really terrifically. china, if they do 7% -- >> right, but in an emerging economy, it's going to go 6%, 7%. >> if we do 6% -- >> our sweet spot is 3% to 5%. >> if we do 6% or 7% under my plan -- >> we've never had a year of 6% or 7%. >> but we can do that. >> how? >> well, first of all, a couple things, number one, corporate inversion is a big deal and that's getting worse and worse. companies will be leaving here. in the old days they'd leave new york and go to florida, leave new jersey and go to texas.
they're leaving the united states now and going out to different -- whether it's ireland and lots of other places in europe and asia and they're leaving and there are many companies right now, chuck, that are talking about very seriously leaving this country and you're talking about thousands of jobs and a couple of these are big, powerful companies with lots of jobs. >> what you're saying is you make it up with growth? >> no, not all up with growth. we also start cutting because the waste in this country is unbelievable. >> you're going to get rid of entire departments? >> i would get rid of some. as an example, department of education. >> you'd get rid of it? >> not entirely. but i'd get rid of a lot of it. look at jeb bush, he's a big common core person. i'm not. i want local education. we could say a fortune with environmental protection. >> financially not a big department, though, you won't get rid of a lot. >> it's a lot of money. >> well what is another agency. >> mechb the military. i'm going to build the military, it will be much stronger. it will be so strong, nobody
will mess but w us but we can do it for less. they sent a washer from south carolina to texas, it cost $997,000. it was fraud. it was fraud. >> so you believe we can spend less money on defense than we do today? >> i think we can defense much stronger, spend somewhat less money and increase -- >> so cut the defense budget and make the military stronger? >> chuck, when they send an 18-cent washer from south carolina to texas and it costs almost a million dollars to bring it there because of the fraud and abuse and everything else, it was a fraud but there have been many cases like that, we can save so much. when a hammer you buy at home depot for $8 costs $900 -- >> do you know how many politicians have said this over the years? >> i know, but i'm not a politician. >> if i get waste, fraud and abuse -- >> i'm not a politician. i'm a business gye. of course for the last three months i'm a politician. >> it never happens. >> watch it happen with me. >> let's move to syria. >> okay.
>> you came across to me as if you welcomed putin's involvement in syria. you said it was sort of like -- you saw very little down side. why? >> i'll tell you why. i am somebody that -- and you know i've been saying this a long time. i want our military to be beyond no contest because militaries have to be technologically -- so we probably have a big advantage. >> we are going to get bogged down in syria. if you look at what happened with the soviet union in afghanistan, that's when they went bankrupt. >> so you think putin will get suckered in -- >> they'll get bogged down. everybody that's touched the middle east, they get bogged down. putin does not want isis. know they haven't hitting them as hard -- >> they're hitting people we've trained. >> excuse me. they're hitting people, we're talking about people we don't know. the rebel group, we have no idea. i was talking to a general two
days ago. we're training people, we don't know who they are? and you know what? i'm not saying assad is a good guy, he's probably a gad guy. but i've watched him many times if you look at libya, rook what we did there. it's a mess. it will be the same thing. >> do you think the middle east would be better off today if qaddafi, saddam and assad were sort of -- if saddam and qaddafi were still there and assad were stronger? do you think the middle east would be safer? >> it's not even a contest. it's not even a contest. iraq is s a disaster. >> so it would be better if you have a saddam were in charge. >> don't forget, isis came out of iraq. >> let me button this up. with saddam and qaddafi things would be more stable? >> of course. you wouldn't have had your benghazi situation which was just a terrible situation. is of course it would. libya is not even -- nobody
knows what's going on. >> so you welcome putin's involvement? >> i like that putin is bombing the hell out of isis. >> why do you trust him and nobody else does? >> i don't trust him at all other than we both got good ratings the other night on "60 minutes" because it was with me and putin. did i get the ratings or did he? i don't want to see the united states -- we've spent now $2 trillion in iraq, probably a trillion in afghanistan. we're destroying our country. we owe $19 trillion we're bogged down. russia was bogged down in afghanistan meaning the soviet union. you watch, as sure as you're sitting there -- i'm the one that said don't do iraq. >> so you would pull out of what we're doing in syria right now? >> this is not usually me talking because i'm very proactive as you probably know. >> i know.
>> but i would sit back and let's see what's going on. here's the problem to what you're saying in syria. we are fighting assad and we're fighting for people and helping people that we don't know who they are. and they may be worse than assad. they may be worse. and if assad never happened, if you didn't have the problem in syria you would haven't the migration, you wouldn't be talking about countries with what's going on in europe and now they're talking about taking 200,000 people that we don't know who they are and bringing them to the united states? the whole thing is ridiculous. so i'm not justifying putin. but he'll get bogged down there. he'll be there. he'll spend a fortune, he'll be begging to get out. >> two more questions i want to get at you. you said you're not a masochist and if you start falling in the polls you'll go back to your business. what does that mean? are you not in this for the long haul or not? >> it's a strange thing. >> you said it with my buddy john harwood and it caught my ear. i'm like uh-oh. what does that mean? >> a lot of people have asked me
that question. number one, i'm not a masochist and if i was dropping in the polls where i saw i wasn't going to win why would i continue? maybe it's like not like me because it's a power of positive thinking and i a positive person but the truth is i'm a realist. i'm doing great in the polls right now. i think you will say. i'm leading everything. >> leading in every poll. >> by a lot. >> in the republican primaries. >> not only leading by a lot. >> general elections are different stories. we're not there yet. >> i believe in polls. how many elections do you see where the polls were wrong? not that many. you theme, but not that many. if i were doing poorly, if i saw myself going down, if you would stop calling me because you no longer have any interest in trump because he has no chance, i go back to my business. i have no problem with that. >> well, there it is. boy, there's a lot to chew over there, particularly what he said about the middle east and his own poll ratings, we deal that later in the show. and there's more to that
interview on our web site, meetthepressnbc.com. when we come back, we have something donald trump loves, polls. our latest polls out of iowa and new hampshire. you'll be surprised at who gained the most and who lost the most. donald trump will be surprised about who lost the most. that's coming up in a second. we stop arthritis pain, so you don't have to stop. tylenol® 8hr arthritis pain has two layers of pain relief. the first is fast. the second lasts all day. we give you your day back. what you do with it is up to you. tylenol®.
month ago. ben carson in second is down three. the movers here in iowa, carly fiorina, she jumped three points into third place, jeb bush in the high single digits there. let's look at the rest of this second tier. crui cruz, rubio, jindal, huckabee and christy aie. bobby jindal may feel good about this. if your candidate isn't on here, they develop top 3% in this field. now let's look at the new hampshire primary here. donald trump still in the lead but look at this, his number has dropped a whopping seven points. carly fiorina first time she's in second place in any of the early states, she jumped a double digit. is 10 points, she's up to 16%. jeb bush, rubio, carson in double digits. jeb bush may be benefitting from a multimillion dollar ad campaign he has in new hampshire. let's look at the second tier in new hampshire, christie, kasich, cruz and paul.
look at the news here, john kasich's double digits have been cut in half. let's look at the democrats. here things are stable. in iowa clinton ahead 47%-36%. it's close but she's holding the lead. in new hampshire, again, status quo but status quo is not good for hillary clinton. bernie sanders at 48% and that state that neighbors vermont. hillary clinton sitting at 39%. by the way, when you throw joe biden in here, guess whose lead expands? bernie sanders. coming up, we'll break down the 2016 race and look at what happens in washington when you say what a lot of people think is the truth but you do it is the truth but you do it accid
a lot to digest, trump, those poll, the panel is back. mark leibovich, i have to first start with what we see in those poll, carly fiorina spiking into second place. everythi everything seems to shake up below trump. these aren't great numbers for him but he's still ahead. the shakeup is underneath him. >> it is but the fact that there's such a big bunch, the fact that that itself is fluid helps trump a lot because it makes -- in a way it stabilizes his support because it turns the rest of the field into sort of an anti-trump vote. he has -- she's slipped a bit. fiorina -- what's interesting now is we're seeing state-by-state polls. iowa, new hampshire, it's tightening for trump and the question is if he loses iowa, does he recover in new hampshire? if you think about this state by state, does he have any organization in those places? >> it's interesting, amy. there are 11 different
candidates that scored 5% or better in iowa or new hampshire. this field is still very fluid. >> very fluid and voters are still undecided. you're seeing that churn, i have to imagine for jeb bush that what's keeping him warm at night is that actually neither of the last two republican nominees were chosen in iowa. john mccain and mitt romney. he's thinking maybe he can survive this if he's not doing well right now. >> and in the new hampshire poll it's the first evidence money might matter. he's outspending the field right now and he's in double digits. let's see where he is at the end of the month. >> he's outspending the field and he has a large amount in the bank but the news this this poll isn't the undercard. it's trump. if you look at this poll and other polls, the numbers are starting. we don't know whether they'll plateau but the trend line is no good for trump and what he told you and told mark is that this guy -- the other and can its all have presidential fever. they will slog through the
snows -- >> look at bobby jindal, he's been suffering and he was fighting. >> that's what they want. trump does not have presidential fever, he has attention fever and once the attention is off him he doesn't do smatterings, he told you. once the attention is off him, he's out of there. >> we'll talk more trump later in the show. let's turn into what's going on in the republican conference inside the house. kevin mccarthy is in hot water for comments he made about the benghazi committee. some might argue it is the classic michael kinsley gaffe, he accidentally told the truth. let's hear what he said first. >> everybody thought hillary clinton was unbeatable, right? but we put together a benghazi special committee, a select committee, what are her numbers today? her numbers are dropping. why? because she's untrustable. but no one would have known any of that had happened had we noting made that happen. >> and boy republicans didn't like it. jason chaffetz who announced he's officially going to
challenge mccarthy for the speakership went after mccarthy hard for the comment. >> to suggest that there is any sort of political motivation is absolutely -- it's not fair to mr. gowdy, it's not fair to myself and most importantly it's not fair to those four families who lost the loved ones. i think he should withdraw that statement. i think he needs to express how wrong it was. it was never the intention, it's not what we're doing and i think statement is totally wrong. >> rich, i've talked to a lot of republicans on the house who are furious at mccarthy because they feel as if they just handed hillary clinton a talking point for the october 22 testimony. let's set that aside. is mccarthy in trouble? >> yes, he is. in this sense. he has a strong lock on the house republican caucus. he probably has 190 votes. he needs more. he needs to get 218 on the floor to become speaker and it's not clear he's going to get there. so it's extremely unsettled and
the only prediction i'd feel confident in making is there will be another speaker of the house but i don't know -- >> meaning when? by the end of this year or next year? >> i don't know. the best case mccarthy will have to make is, look, i have the most support within the conference, we don't want to embarrass ourselves with chaos. >> i've heard republicans going no offense to jason chaffetz but where is the rest of the a-team? where's paul ryan? where's jeb hensarling? where's people that might get 218? >> people who are looking for standard bearers. >> a little bit more of the statesman. >> the person who i'm looking at who i think is sitting very pretty is jim jordan, the head of the freedom caucus which is going to be pivotal in choosing the next house -- >> boy did not boehner not like him. >> you do not have to be a writer for "house of cards" to imagine the dealing that jim jordan might become oversight
chairman if he's willing to promise his freedom caucus. >> ruth marcus, hillary clinton campaign. she came out and was very stern and lecturing. i mean, she wanted to break out in cheers, right? >> i think she was doing a little jig kind of right off camera there. what a gift and lord knows she needs it. >> she was literally -- this was no doubt that i think setting up gowdy versus clinton was going to be -- now gowdy has been undermined, right? >> completely undermined. it's an unbelievable statement that this happened. yes it might have been the truth but you're not supposed to tell the truth. not only does she have a soundbite but she'll be able to repeat this over and over and over again. >> it's not just that she can repeat it, it's that the attacks on her have to be muted now to the extent that it was going to be a hillary bashing fest on october 22, they need to -- >> but gowdy isn't stupid. he'll change his tact. >> if republican investigative
committees had the power to diminish hillary's poll numbers she would have been at zero a long time ago and what mccarthy was trying to say, ineptly, is the committee through its work uncovered a key and very important thing that has hurt hillary clinton. >> and if he said it like that? >> i'm available for speaker. [ laughter ] >> what's amazing about mccarthy's statement is that it's not only stupid, it's wrong. it wasn't the hearing driving down her poll numbers, it was the e-mail scandal. >> well, more importantly there are a lot of conservatives who believe -- and they're offended by mccarthy's statement. anyway, put the pause button there, we'll get to the other news of the week, russia's military moving into syria. did the u.s. lose control of the region? as if it had it. or did russia step into its own quagmire? and la
welcome back. u.s. air strikes killed 19 people at a doctors without borders hospital in the city of kunduz in afghanistan yesterday. president obama has offered his deepest condolences but did not apologize for the air strikes. instead he promised to launch an investigation. the united nations has condemned the incident and even suggested it might amount to a war crime. doctors without borders, who have denied that taliban fighters were hiding in the hospital, say the bombardment went on for more than 30 minutes despite the fact they were continuously raising the alarm bells with u.s. and afghan officials about what was going on in their gps coordinates. but, of course, this week
elsewhere in the region the news has been in syria where on wednesday with one hour's notice russia launched air strikes in syria focused on anti-assad fighters rather than isis. and on "mtp daily," republican senate foreign relations chair bob corker, who is not always somebody who tosses bombs over at the obama administration, could not hide his frustration. >> i really hope the president doesn't give another statement, because every time he does, nothing happens, our credibility is diminished. and putin knows nothing is going to happen. >> but on friday the president did speak about russia's action in syria at the white house. >> mr. putin had to go into syria not out of strength but out of weakness. because his client, mr. assad, was crumbling and it was insufficient for him simply to send them arms and money. >> joining me now is mike mcfall, the former u.s. ambassador to russia under
president obama, and steven hadley, george w. bush's last national security advisor. gentlemen, welcome to you both. ambassador mcfall, let me start with you. to unpack the president's statement there, he said putin was going in out of a position of weakness because assad was crumbling. by that logic, if assad was on that close to crumbling, did we miss an opportunity to sort of push assad over the crumbling line six months ago? >> i would say four years ago, chuck. the real moment for opportunity for change in syria was when there were hundreds of thousands of peaceful demonstrators, assad looked very weak then, isis did not exist in syria at the moment and that was an opportunity lost. six months ago or two weeks ago i think it's a much more complex terrain, though i do agree with the president, putin has had the same policy for four years, which is to support assad. he believes that's a way to
peace and stability in syria. that policy of putin's hasn't worked, so he's had to double down with these latest military attacks. >> steven hadley, let's look at where we are now. obviously we can go back and i think everybody is backseat driving the president, including hillary clinton on that front. does this mean now that despite us wanting to say assad has to go before you can fully defeat isis, that we're stuck with assad? >> well, i think we need to step back and say what are our objectives here? our objective is there's a huge humanitarian crisis that is overwhelming the neighboring states, it's threatening europe. we have isis, which controls territory. they are training tens of thousands of terrorists that at some point will be coming back against our friends and allies and potentially the united states. and we have a civil war going on and as long as that civil war goes on, this chaos and violence
will continue. so we have to step back and say what are our objectives here, what do we need to do? i think the first step we need do is we need to get engaged. we've been basically absent without leave for the last four years, and the situation has degenerated in the way a lot of people projected. so the first step is the united states has to be engaged, and if you're worried about russia establishing a sphere of influence and iranian hegemony, the way to stop that is for the united states to start leading. >> ambassador mcfaul, do you think it's possible we sort of held back because we didn't want to chase the iranians away from the table during the nuclear deal? >> no, i don't think there is a linkage between that at all. i think back when i was in the government there was a sense that assad was going to fall, and therefore for us to engage we would only make that problem worse. having said that, the policy changed a year ago. i want to point out to your viewers, we've had 7,000 attacks in iraq and syria against isis. we're fighting that fight, we
just haven't achieved the results that we want. but we are definitely engaged in a military way against isis today in syria. >> and speaking of that policy, this is a bipartisan group of senators that went from joe manchin with democrats to a mike lee in the republican side of the aisle who want to introduce legislation to stop the training of moderate rebels. basically, that this policy isn't working, there's evidence it's not working well. where are you on this, ambassador? >> i think it would be not prudent right now to stop what we're doing. we need to have some allies in syria. putin's argument, just to be clear about putin, he says everybody's a terrorist, there's nobody to work with but assad, and my own sense of that is just trying to shore up assad without an alternative, without a discussion about a political transition means that the civil war with continue. so i agree with steve, we need to be engaged but we need to be engaged on trying to put together a political transition
in syria, because otherwise it will remain a civil war for a long time. >> who's at that table? political transition. reality check. iran has to be at that table whether we like it or not. russia has to be at that table whether we like it or not. >> i think they do. the question is before you get to that table you have to make it clear that you're willing to support the kind of outcome which is inclusive and which involves ultimately assad leaving, that winds down the violence and unifies the country against isis. so, yes, it has to be a regional activity, and lot of europeans need to be involved, our friends and allies in the region need to be involve. but the focus needs to be there has to be an entry ticket in terms of the set of principles you need to accept before you sit at the table and we need to see if we can get a broad-based coalition government. >> ambassador mcfaul, hillary clinton called for a no-fly zone at this point. president obama, when he reacted to it, he said it's not a
half-baked idea but you say things on the campaign trail that you might do differently if you're president. it was the closest you'd get to him criticizing that idea. what do you make of her proposal of a no-fly zone now? >> i think it comes out of a sense of frustration that we're not achieving our objectives. there's no argument about what the objectives are in syria. there's an argument about the strategy for achieving them. and to consider a no-fly zone, it would have to be a coalition no-fly zone, by the way, not just a unilateral one by the united states. at least it should be considered. and when i was in the government people would say things on the outside and we would say publicly we've considered that and then we would think about it. so i think it's good for the debate that we consider this option right now. >> steven hadley, i have to get you to respond to donald trump, what he said, the middle east would be better off today with saddam, gadhafi, and a stronger assad. >> it's amazing. assad -- this began with peaceful demonstrations against assad's brutality and treatment of his people and it's only when
assad declared war on his people that we got into this cycle of violence. and to say it would be better for a man that has killed over 250,000 people, displaced half of his country, ruined his economy, that it would be better for him to stay in power? i mean, it's a kind of lesson to the worrell. the if you kill enough of your own people, the world will let you stay in power. that's a terrible lesson. it's not america. it's not what we stand for. >> steven hadley, ambassador mike mcfaul, former ambassador of russia -- under the obama administration. >> i totally agree with steve. thank you. >> you got it. i slept in so i missed whether stanford won or lost last night. >> stanford crushed arizona. >> fair enough. we'll be back this our moment with that end game segment and the thing donald trump said about why he might someday sort of potentially get out of the race. is your head so congested it's ready to explode?
so in a similar way you realize you can't be dismissive. >> anyone who is dismissive of donald trump at this point, certainly in the media, is an idiot. essentially -- look, the guy is leading in the polls, it's legitimate. and when you asked him the question what would it take for you to get out of the race, you know, it was a surprising answer but it was a reality-based answer. it was the kind of question most politicians would duck. they would say "i intend to win." >> right, the only poll that matters is the one on election day. >> they should throw cliches out there and that in a way is a window into why so many people find it so thrilling that there's a person who will speak that way. >> to be a political candidate is to risk and very often experience soul-crushing humiliation and it's not clear at all that that is what donald trump signed up for. >> and that's what i take away from it, ruth, and you mentioned it, he doesn't desire to be president, he will not accept having to do what john mccain
did -- fall in the polls and carry his own luggage. >> donald trump does not carry his own luggage. >> made that clear to you. >> did not like the jimmy carter carrying his own luggage. >> i think what he wants about being president -- and he doesn't need the plane or the big house -- he wants the adulation of being president. he doesn't want the hard work. >> and that's the fear that republicans have that even if donald trump were to lose, if he only loses just a little bit, that he might want to stay in because of that adulation. but when i heard his remarks about you know, there are other things i could do, i'm a billionaire, i'm terrific, it was echoes of george w. bush who said "i don't need to win, i don't need to feed my ego." a little different but i think the public reacts to that well that this guy isn't one of these -- >> let's remember the context. bush was saying in context to running against al gore who his whole life was to prepare him for running for president. let's talk about underneath. dan balz in the "washington
post" essentially did what is dangerous in washington. he said well, okay, there's carson, trump, and fiorina but really the race will come down to bush, kasich and rubio. >>. i think he's right but i'm not willing to go out on that limb yet. >> this is not a moment. it's now a four-month period. people say oh, well like herman cain and michele bachmann they had moments in 2012. no, this is a sustained movement. he also has unlimited money. what donald trump is showing people is how you can free yourself up from a lot of headaches and not to mention busy work when you have money and he hasn't spent any of it. >> and ben carson has raised $20 million. he had to spend a lot to raise a lot but that's more cash on hand that jeb bush has. >> absolutely. you have conventional wisdom now and bush and rubio and kasich. it used to be bush rubio and walker and how did that turn snout i think trump is very vulnerable in iowa. after the tsunami of earned
media, he's just ahead by five points and it's usually not the new york billionaires who know about the bible who thrive in iowa. >> ruth, very quickly. bush this week got caught tracking rubio. rubio's campaign kicked him out. we know they are somewhere in ohio digging through the archives of kasich. are they being too ham handed? >> i think this is the moment for ham handedness because they're so far down in where they are. my quickie prediction, we've spent time talking about anger and authenticity, we'll start talking about electability and that's when we get to dan's undercard. >> who knows? maybe next we'll talk talk about joe biden. speaking of the democratic race, hillary clinton did a cameo for "saturday night live's" season premier. here's a taste of it. >> so, hillary, what brings you here tonight? >> well, i no ed to blow off some steam. i've had a hard couple of 22 years. [ laughter ] how about you? >> me? i'm just an ordinary citizen who believes the keystone pipeline
will destroy our environment. [ laughter ] i agree with you there. it did take me a long time to decide that but i am against it. >> you know, nothing wrong with taking your time. what's important is getting it right. >> oh, val, i'm just so darned bummed. all anyone want to talks about is trrp trmp. >> trrp trmp? isn't he the one that's like, ugh, you're all losers? >> i have to say, amy holmes, to hear her do an impersonation, i was like it was -- that was fun hillary. >> sides of her we didn't knew existed that she does impersonations. i give her credit trying to make herself for relatable and likeable and poking fun at herself. >> i'm surprised it was hillary and not trump that did the season premiere. >> i would wait. >> lorne michaels is not stupid. we shall see. that's all for today. don't forget to tune in to mtp
daily monday through friday. if it's a weekday it's also "meet the press" at 5:00 p.m. eastern on msnbc. we'll be back next week with the big show. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press." it's monday, october 5th. right now on first first, south carolina's thousand-year flood from breached dams, wrecked roads and parking lots turned into lakes is just the beginning. trrp trrp's numbers are sinking, others are rising and hillary clinton prepares for a big town hall meeting this morning. on the heels of the oregon community college shooting, warnings are issued, that and more as "first look" starts right now. good monday morning. thanks for joining us today i'm betty nguyen. unprecedented and deadly rainfall has south carolina's