tv The Place for Politics 2016 MSNBC April 7, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
i'm kate snow. good afternoon. we start this hour once again with combative language, but there time, it's not the republicans that we're talking about. it's the democrats trading sharp barbs. hillary clinton on morning joe wednesday, was asked if sanders is qualified to be president. >> the core issue in his whole campaign doesn't seem to be rooted in an understanding of either the law or the practical ways you get something done. >> that was a small slice of a two-minute long answer, where to be fair, she was asked the same question three times over, and it's important to point out that at no time did she actually say the words bernie sanders is not qualified to be the president. while some argue that she suggested it, sanders was a bit more blunt last night. >> let me just say in response to secretary clinton.
i don't believe that she is qualified. >> and that was the point where it all went to another level. sanders went there, beyond normal come pa normal campaign rhetoric, a person who may have to support come november. what had been a civil democratic race, it turned combative on a dime. so to defend himself this morning, he pointed to this "washington post" headline, both sanders and clinton spoke simultaneously earlier today, with different tones. >> my response is, well, you know, if you want to question my qualifications, let me suggest this. maybe the american people might wonder about your qualifications, madam secretary. >> look, i didn't -- i don't know why he is saying that. but i will take bernie sanders over donald trump or ted cruz any time. >> and just moments ago, president bill clinton, weighing
in. >> my case for hillary is pretty straightforward. i think she -- i thought it when we started, we had all the candidates in the field, that she was by far the best qualified person to be president. for several reasons. several reasons. >> let's break it all down now with our correspondents who cover the democrats day if and day out. kristin welker covering the clinton campaign and msnbc's kasie hunt is covering the sanders campaign. i can't believe the two of you are sitting together in the new york studio. >> it must be because new york is next up. >> kristin, let me start with you. so much back and forth. questions the latest? >> a couple of things. first of all, the clinton campaign has been saying this is an act of desperation on the part of senator sanders, and making a couple of points. one, the point that you made, that she didn't actually say he wasn't qualified, although she
did walk up to the line. number two, they say look, if he is going to apply that argument to secretary clinton, he could apply the same reasoning for president obama, or john kerry, to say they're diseququalified. number three, when she spoke to reporters, this undermines party unity. this reality, this could become part of an ad in a general election. what we're seeing is the gloves are coming off for the reasons you're talking about, new york is the battle ground. the clinton campaign wants to turn the page, a series of losses, secretary clinton has a huge delegate lead, but this is her home turf. it's also a place with more than 200 delegates up for grabs. >> sanders would say this is home turf too. you wrote last night, kasie, reading our e-mails, you said he seems frustrated.
this week in particular, he was ready to kind of fight back. >> think about it. he came out of wisconsin this big win, he wants to celebrate and you turnover a leaf here into new york, you have this daily news cover with sandy hook, the clinton campaign pushing the editorial board, don't forget, that's where there started, sanders talking about breaking up the big banks, or not offering enough answers. but this, the fact that sanders went where he went with that tack last night, tells you a lot about where his head is personally. i mean hr, this is a candidate, staff on campaigns, how decisions are made, more than any campaign i've probably ever covered, this is a candidate driven campaign. his staff are constantly trying to convince him, hey, this is the best way to go about things, and there are certainly times he listens to the people around him. this issue on how or whether to attack secretary clinton, he has been pushed to do it, and he has
resisted and resisted, and finally, he felt as though she made the kind of attack that really gets under his ski the most, which is to suggest that he has no business in the race. and that's really, you know, why you saw him fire back. >> we have more sound from senator sanders just in. i want to play that and we'll talk more. >> it is not the type of politics that i want to get in. but let me also be very clear. if secretary clinton thinks that i just come from the small state of vermont, we're not used to this, we'll get used to it fast. i'm not going to get beaten up. i'm not going to get lied about. we'll fight back. >> that's it right there. >> he doesn't want to be dismissed. not from small little state in new england. >> i have no business or i can't stand up to hillary clinton. clearly, there are steps taken to say from the clinton campaign, you know what, you want to rumle in new york, we'll go ahead and rumble in new york. they went to a place that clearly has made him feel like you know what, i'm going to
stand up. >> senator sanders runs the risk of going too far. secretary clinton runs the risk of alienating some of the supporters, the supporters she'll need if she wins the nomination. so you have some democrats when they heard the sharp rhetoric coming out, hey, be careful not to alienate senator sanders supporters. >> let's play one more piece of sound. this is just in this afternoon with matt lauer, at the "today show," interviewing hillary clinton. the full interview tomorrow. >> came right out and said he doesn't think you're qualified to be president. >> well, that will be up to the voters of new york, and the other states that will be passing judgment in the weeks ahead. i think it's kind of a silly statement. but he is free to say whatever he chooses. >> he is qualified to be president? >> well, here is what i believe. i believe that voters will be looking at both of us. but i will take bernie sanders
over donald trump or ted cruz any time. >> okay, so there is the newest, latest, greatest sound. before i let you go, i want to ask you about one other thing. new york city and the subway and the way you ride the subway here is to use the metro card. bernie sanders, this is one of the other things he got wrong the other day. he talked about tokens. >> in fairness, there were tokens for way more of bernie sanders' life. >> true enough. >> this funny moment with hillary clinton trying to get on using a card as one does, but let's show this video. >> she had a couple of tries. >> tries once. tries again. this happens to me all the time. >> i talked to one of her campaign people about it, and you know what, it takes me a couple of tries. honestly, i used to live in new york and take the subway all the time. i was thinking, gosh, it would take me a couple of times as
well. >> it was nice to a lighter moment. >> exactly. >> all the serious stuff we're talking about. ladies, thank you so much. i appreciate you being here, physically. nice to see you. i want to bring in christina shocky, communications director for the clinton campaign. i wouldn't quiz you on how to use the metro card. let's go back to what we were talking about. so much back and forth about this. and hillary clinton does seem to be trying to walk a line, but she did, as kristin put it before, she walked up to the line of saying that he was not qualified to be president of this nation. >> you know, that's just not a question she was ever going to answer. that's not who she is. that's not the kind of leader she is. that's not the kind of democratic she is. what she was focused on is the daily policy. he is a single issue candidate. for a year, the main subject he wants to talk about is wall street. when they asked him questions about it, he didn't have a basic
understanding of the current laws that regulate the system, or what he oh do as president. he has said repeatedly if he was elected in the first year, he would break up the banks, but didn't have a plan to achieve that. she was pointing that out. never going to talk about him being qualified. you heard her say she would gladly vote for him before trump or cruz. >> is it legitimate for him for him to be pointing out as flaws in her candidacy. the full statement was because she has super pac support, she has wall street support, she voted for the iraq war, she supported trade agreements. he is allowed to make those comments. >> as many people pointed out today, if you hold democrats to his test, then president obama should not be our president. then john kerry shouldn't have been our candidate. you know, i think what's really happening here is, as it's so great to have your two correspondents here together, as they pointed out, he has a real
uphill climb here. he is significantly behind. she has 2 million more votes than he does. he is behind by more than 200 delegates. he won wisconsin, but only picked up ten delegates. they're in a hard place right now. what we've seen them do is become more negative as a response to that. >> we just saw bill clinton last hour giving -- talking to a crowd in philadelphia. i don't ever if you've had a chance to see it yet, i want to play a moment where he was confronted by some protesters. let's take a look. >> oh, now watt a minute, wait a minute. now you're screaming. let's do another one. whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. no, wait. >> one of the signs says the crime bill destroyed our neighborhood. we don't know exactly who those protesters were at this hour, but are you losing control of
the message? >> no, i don't think so at all. you know, we're really, hillary is so proud to have her husband out there campaigning for him -- for her, for her candidacy. and you know, i actually hnavent seen that yet, so thank you for showing it. protests happen a lot of times. he handled it well. talking about the crime bill with the president and hillary have spoken before about the unintended consequences that came out of that, and she has been a lifelong advocate for helping reform the criminal justice system. she has a plan do it for president. this is an issue she cares deeply about it. she has put forth something that will improve the system. >> a lot of young people backing bernie sanders. if clinton gets the nomination, she may have trouble drawing people over. i want to show a poll, recent poll that shows 25% of sanders voters, nationwide, said they would not back hillary clinton
in the general election. 25%. how do you get past that, if she is the nominee? >> you know, she takes this really seriously. i have to first say she is so glad to see so many young people so engaged in this election. there are important issues that matter in their lives, that the next president has to deal with. like how to make college more affordable. she understands that a lot of them are supporting senator sanders now, and she'll work her heart out to earn their support. she is looking forward to li. >> ted cruz looks to close the delegate with donald trump as time magazine asks is ted cruz like able enough to become president. feature the daughter of eric garner, killed by police here in new york, supporting bernie sanders. she'll join us in a few minutes
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well, it's a battle for new york today, as senator ted cruz hits the empire state, and just a short time ago, news out of mayor rudy giuliani, saying that he will support donald trump, saying he will vote for donald trump. no independent verification of that just yet. but we do hear that mayor giuliani based on a report in the new york post, telling the new york post, that he will support donald trump. we're covering republicans from all angles as well today. let's start with jacob rascon. he is outside manhattan's trump tower. what do we no about this post report that former mayor giuliani is on his side? >> so we talked to campaign
official who said, he stopped short of confirming what was reported in the new york post. but said that it is an honor to have mr. giuliani part of the team, or the support for mr. trump. going forward, we know that they are so focused on new york, because they want to make it essentially mathematically impossible that ted cruz can get to the magic number. they want to win all 95 here in new york. they want, then, to be able to, after that, say they only need 52% of the delegates going forward. they want to avoid that open convention. but then you're seeing as well today, that release from donald j. trump, the organization, telling us that paul manafort, the one hired only a week ago, and now he is having more responsibility and they're going to hire in the coming weeks more seasoned professionals, who are going to be in charge of making sure they can get the unbound delegates on trump's side, and making sure if there is an open convention, that they can
compete well on the second ballot. so again, as far as the former mayor's support, the campaign telling us it is an honor to have his support. kate. >> jacob covering the trump campaign. thanks. ted cruz getting ready to. >> to a matza bakery, in a state where he trails donald trump. he is painting himself as the real conservative. hallie jackson on her way to brooklyn. hallie, we're seeing a little bit of a shift in the message today. he was all about jobs, when he spoke up in scotioa, which is next to my hometown. >> i think probably drove through your hometown. >> i'm sure you did. >> driving up to albany, driving back down to brooklyn. a lot of great folks in that neck of the woods. you're seeing ted cruz shift his message.
we started to see it in wisconsin, revamed -- notably today, when he was fired up, the crowd, campaign estimated about 1,800 people, they stood on their feet for the entire speech swir which is not something we often see at cruz rallies. that said, he is facing an uphill battle, donald trump pulling about 50%. that's why we're seeing him make overtures, different demographic groups. for example, minority communities, he'll be reaching out to. an aide telling me he'll be reaching out to jewish communities like you're seeing today. we're heading to brooklyn because he'll be at a bakery. his position on israel, drawing a contrast with donald trump. the campaign will say we're highlighting ted cruz's strengths where it comes to where he is on his real, and the common security issues that the
two nations share. but privately, the campaign will acknowledge that it is a way to go after donald trump, to hit him on a policy position, and to make him look potentially vulnerable in a state where he looks very strong. trump's campaign on the other side will say hey, when we put donald trump in front of cameras in new york, we know that he is reaching people in new jersey, in pennsylvania, in connecticut, delaware, all these states that come up after new york, so the campaign on the trump side feeling confident they'll win in new york. cruz hoping peel off enough delegates to keep him from sweeping the state. i imagine we'll barnstorm over your great state. >> okay, yeah i can only imagine. one quick question, hallie. yesterday you and i talked about new york values, and the question you asked ted cruz when he was down here in new york city, what he meant by new york values. this morning, the new york daily news, front page, is pretty harsh. take the train, ted.
what does the campaign say, though, in all seriousness, what do they say about this, this strain of thought that he won't be able to win over new yorkers? >> here is what ted cruz himself will say, kate. people in new york who are conservative understand what ted cruz is trying to say, what he talks about these new york values. cruz says explicitly he is talking about liberal democratic values. that's actually part of his reworked stump speech. using people like bill de blasio as foils here in new york, and the crowds that are going to his events, like somebody yelled out, heckled cuomo, made a joke off of it. but here is the issue. when you go to places like schenectady, where we were, you talk to folks. what are new york values. does ted cruz understand new york values. the answer you get, he doesn't
get the new york values. he is from texas. he doesn't know what they are. it's a tough sell, two and a half months ago to go after donald trump, and to try to win over new yorkers. the campaign feels the message they're trying to get to the conservative base in new york, to the conservatives who live in new york, they get what he means. >> hallie jackson, literally on the way to brooklyn. thanks so much, hallie. great to see you. safe travels. up next, the daughter of eric garner whose father was killed by police in new york. she is going to join us up next. can you pick me up at 6:30? ah... (boy) i'm here! i'm here! (cop) too late. i was gone for five minutes! ugh! move it. you're killing me. you know what, dad? i'm good. (dad) it may be quite a while before he's ready, but our subaru legacy will be waiting for him. (vo) the longest-lasting midsize sedan in its class. the twenty-sixteen subaru legacy.
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garner's daughter, erica, is supporting bernie sanders. she is campaigned for the vermont senator, and now appears in this new ad, airing here in new york. >> this is everything that i have, my family. i got to see my dad die on national tv. they don't know what they took from us. the people are dying. we need a president that is going to talk about it. >> and i'm joined now, pleased to say, that i'm joined by erica garner. thanks so much for being here. >> thanks for having me. >> the campaign is here in new york now. it's all about new york. that ads going to be running. it's your hometown. what do you want people to know about bernie sanders? >> well, he marched with martin luther king, and especially what's going on now with the black lives matter movement, so many other movements, a lot of protesters and young people need to, you know, listen to, not listen to him, but do their
research. just simple google search and you'll find, you know, him being arrested for standing up for black people when it wasn't popular, especially in the civil rights movement. a lot of people are saying, well, i'm not going to support somebody. he just popped out of, you know, the sky. >> right. >> but a lot of people need to, you know, google him. he has been saying the same thing consistently for the past 30, 40 years. >> you mentioned young people. there is kind of this generational divide that we see a lot with bernie sanders getting support from younger people like you and maybe older generations going for hillary clinton. i mention it because your family sort of symbolizes that split right there. your own grandma is supporting hillary clinton, and she was actually on another hour here on msnbc, gwen carr is her name. i want to play what she said earlier. >> she is the first candidate
that i've heard talk about black lives matter. and she brings to the table what i'm most adamant about. and that is proper policing. police reform. and those things i'm, you know, very, very interested in. >> that's your grandma. that's your grandmother, right. what do you talk about at the dinner table? >> i've been so busy on the campaign trail, i haven't really caught up with her. everyone is entitled to their own opinion. i would just believe, like, a lot of -- have you ever heard the saying, you can't teach old dogs new tricks? and that's what i've been seeing across this country, traveling state to state. a lot of older people, it's, you know, loyal to the clintons, and really don't want to hear anything else. and when you -- when i sat down and knocked on doors and gave phone calls and stuff, a lot of people, young and old, is moving
towards bernie once they learn about the platform that he stood on for his whole life. if you look at hillary clinton, she has been flip flopping her whole life. she had been in the white house for how many years and when a presidential race comes up, you want to talk about black lives. i just believe that we need to stand with someone who will be consistent, and -- >> they would dispute that to be fair. the clinton campaign would say they have a long record of working with the african-american community. >> bill clinton, she has been a state senate and the white house, she did nothing to help the mass incarceration, and you know, so many -- the things that's going on right now, you know, holding officers accountable. and she stood with rahm emanuel and bill de blasio, and bill de blasio still got killer cops on payroll, so if you look at it, she is standing with the corrupted wall street, big banks
and everything, but also standing with corrupt officials, as in mayors. >> i appreciate your thoughts. >> thank you. up next, new york city may be the financial capital of the world, but how much money will the candidate spend to win the empire state. plus donald trump is upping the ant ant anty. ur concert tee might show your age...your skin never will. olay regenerist. olay. ageless. and try the micro-sculpting cream you love... ...now with lightweight spf 30
wrely on the us postal service? because when they ship with us, their business becomes our business. that's why we make more e-commerce deliveries to homes than anyone else in the country. here, there, everywhere. united states postal service priority: you welcome back to msnbc, you're looking at a shot out of the university law school in chicago, the president is expected there any moment. i think that's the president's daughter walking by, i think. it looked like her. but we're going to be keeping an eye on that and bring it to you just as soon as the president is speaking. he is expected to speak about his nominee to the supreme court. ahead of his wisconsin win, time magazine sat down with republican presidential candidate, senator ted cruz, for
an exclusive interview where he talked about the economy and how he will broaden his appeal from conservatives to the entire republican party. this week's time complete with the cover story, likeable enough, not so fast, donald, ted cruz has a plan. that's the headline there. it hits newsstands today. joining me now is zeke miller, learning to love ted. nice to see you, zeke. thanks for being with us. >> thanks for having me. >> you interviewed ted cruz on the day of the primary, i believe on tuesday. what was the vibe? >> this was a couple of hours before polls closed, but at that point he had seen the exit polling, he was very confident he was going to win. he was trying to spin this thing forward. trying to talk about how he was going to unite the republican party. how he was going to try to compete in states like new york, like pennsylvania, where they're very different from the place he traditionally competed in. he looked at his likely victory
in wisconsin, where he broadened his reach beyond evangelical voters as a sign of how he can do well nationwide. >> you make the point in the article, everybody hated. this is the guy that said he needed a food taster in the senate dining hall, who john mccain called him a whack co bird. he is also far right and now he is trying to ask the party to unify around him. what does he say about how he'll do that? >> when you talk to him, ae's going to say he is not changing. he is 100% right about that. he is in the unique position that is not ideologically defined, but far more hated in the establishment right now, in the form of donald trump getting all these republicans, more moderate republicans, coming behind him. they may not love it, but they certainly are taking the path of least resistance going with the known unknown versus the unknown unknown. so that's, you know, where a lot
of republicans r he will welcome them in with open arms, not necessarily saying he'll change anything, but will say nice things about them now. certainly he is going after their voters, talking about that with hallie before, talking about jobs and the economy and how to soften the rough edges on those issues, where he has more common ground. >> i don't know if you heard the new york post is reporting that rudy giuliani, the former mayor of new york city plans to support donald trump, the campaign, telling the post that they're happy about that support. i guess i wonder how ted cruz possibly does well here in new york up against that. >> you know, the game for ted cruz in new york isn't going to be winning the state out right. donald trump is so far ahead for him, talking to his aide over the past few days, which would keep him from getting the at large delegates. secondarily, individual congressional districts
favorable to ted cruz, particularly where there are not that many republicans, the way the republican party rules work in new york, every congressional district, no matter how many, has three delegates to be awarded. if he can get one, two, even all three delegates in those congressional districts, he can have a good night on the 19th. he is going to pick his spots and try to spoil donald trump that way rather than compete statewi statewide. >> one more interesting quote that caught my attention. cruz told you often on the campaign trail, agree with bernie sanders. now that's an unusual thing for a republican candidate to say, but i say agree with bernie sanders that washington is corrupt. do you see those two, bernie sanders and ted cruz drawing from the same pool of people in any way? >> not really. he is in a different position as donald trump. i saw that more as an effort by him to try to tap into the same an anxiety has.
the rhetoric on issues like trade with banks, with large multi national corporations and the like. this is ted cruz's sort of overture towards those republican voters who are with donald trump. less so i think than necessarily bernie sanders. >> zeke miller with time magazine. thanks so much for being with us. it's an interesting read and great cover. it will catch people's attention. thank you. >> thank you. i'm joined by amy holmes. nice to see you. thank you for joining us. >> thanks for having me. >> we're still awaiting president obama in chicago. hopefully, amy, we can talk for a while before he shows up there, but he'll be talking about the supreme court and we'll bring that as soon as it happens. i want to look ahead a little bit, amy. we were looking at date it and noticed there is a strong appeal for donald trump when you look at urban areas. you look at classically liberal cities that you would think would vote democratic. look at chicago. detroit. the county around boston.
suffolk county, city of st. louis, and the number of republicans in those specific places that went for donald trump. 40, 41, 47% of boston, essentially. what does that mean here in new york, and in the states that vote next for donald trump? can he pull off a win in urban center as soon as. >> well, it means good things for donald trump, given that past track record. national review has an interesting analysis of what it might be speaking to. that is, white voters, living in urban communities who are national reviews's words on the frontlines of the racial issues, and they feel donald trump is their champion as they face them. so that might be part of his appeal. he also has appealed to the very well thewealthy. all of that speaks well for donald trump in new york state. as your previous guest
mentioned, new york state, it may not turn out as well as donald trump hopes, in terms of delegates in the way they allot delegates in the republican party. also, new york state is a closed primary. that means donald trump's sort of broader appeal nonregistered republicans is not going to help him, unless they have registered as republicans, and can vote in the primary. >> right. >> but some good news for donald trump. as you mentioned, rudy giuliani, america's mayor, somebody who is loved by the republican party, says he is voting for donald trump, as are a majority of gop county chairmen, gop leaders at the county level, say they're rallying around donald trump. all that is good news for him. but on that primary night, when it comes to the delegates, that you know, complicated sort of insider rule book thing that's going on with republican party, it may not be the out right win that donald trump would like. >> when you look at the numbers of the population in this state, you've got a registered republicans, you've got
4.75 million of them living in the greater new york city area, and only 7.2 in the rest of the state. so new york city definitely matters here. we were looking back at historical, you know, what happened historically back in new york. back to 1964, amy, presidential general elections, new york city has always gone democratic. look at that. always. so it would be historic if donald trump broke the trend and took new york city. >> well, it would be if he took new york city in a general election. but new york city has gone republican when it comes to electing a mayor, as rudy giuliani can attest. we're talking about the republican primary and what will that say about the general. it may say donald trump has broader appeal that could translate to other places, but look, you know, donald trump, he is supposed to be the hometown favorite. he is supposed to win this thing. so he needs a decisive victory to prove that's viable, going into the republican convention. >> amy holmes, always great to
see you. >> thank you, kate. >> we are moments away from president obama speaking at the university of chicago. his alma mater, where he is expected to discuss the supreme court nomination of merrick garland. we keep looking at the black curtain, but i promise you, we'll bring you the president. john kasich chowing down, take a quick break. we'll be right back. the largest variety of lobster dishes of the year... ...like lobster lover's dream... and new dueling lobster tails. this party can't last so hurry in. i accept i do a shorter i set these days.22. i even accept i have a higher risk of stroke due to afib, a type of irregular heartbeat, not caused by a heart valve problem. but i won't play anything less than my best. so if there's something better than warfarin, i'm going for it. eliquis.
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values are. >> ted cruz divides to get a vote. >> john kasich unites to get things done. kasich delivered on his word and turned his state around with grit and determination.
something new yorkers should appreciate. >> nbc kelly o'donnell following the kasich campaign. kelly, the campaign feeling confident about new york, but down significantly in the polls. what is the game plan? >> reporter: well, i think part
of it, kate, is for john kasich to pay his respects to this kind of new york values. coming to the bronx, eating th location, converting to delicat delicat delegat delegates, he would be doing better than he is right now. i asked him about it. he basically said some of the votes that were cast in wisconsin were more anti-trump than pro ted cruz. so as you saw in that ad clip you played, he is going to hit ted cruz hard on the issue of new york values, and john kasich is going to try to deal with that kind of a sensitivity that is here, and of course, kasich
will be on the trail, and i'm going to throw it back to you, because i think programs the president is coming up. all right, kelly o'donnell, having a little trouble with her shot there. beautiful market, though. a great place. we're going to go over to president obama now. he is speaking in chicago. earlier, i said alma mater, but it's the place he used to teach constitutional law, the university of chicago law school. let's listen in. >> as some of you may know, i actually spent ten years teaching classes and seminars here, and it was really fun. and i missed it. i thought, well, why don't i come back. and say hi to everybody. and so there are a couple of people i want to acknowledge. because they helped to facilitate this. first of all, i want to thank dean miles for closing down the school, i guess, for my day.
thank you. special acknowledgments for jeff stone and doug merrick who were great friends when i was teaching here and partly responsible for having me actually take on some responsibility, straight out of law school, to mold the minds of students who were just barely younger than me. i know that, because some of them, i saw, and they all have gray hair now. which is a little troubling. we've got a terrific congressional delegation, who is here. i just want to acknowledge them. first of all, your outstanding senior senator from the great state of illinois, dick durbin is here. and we've got congressman bobby rush. congressman danny davis.
congressman bill foster, and congressman mike quigley. we also have lisa madigan, the attorney general of illinois. and my former seat mate in springfield, when we were both in the state senate together. and doing a terrific job. i want to thank david, who i was joking before we came out, is one of the country's foremost congressional experts and a nice guy. you guys are lucky to have him. in fact, when i was teaching here, i think that i stole his law class for a while, and he graciously gave it up, because despite the privilege of grading 60 or 70 blue books, he
apparently thought it was important for me to have that privilege as well. so you know, last thing i'll say by way of i had a chance to talk to young people over in the overflow room, mostly students, and i just said to them that having now been in politics for quite some time, seeing what lawyers are capable of doing every single day, working on a whole range of issues that are huge importance to our democracy and to our society, i hope that all of the students here are excited about incredible changes and good that you are going to be able to do when you get out of here. i know that sometimes the news feeds cynicism and democracy at this moment seems particularly
frustrating. but each and every day i see lawyers not that much older than you who are helping young people get an education, making sure that consumers are protected, are helping to keep america safe, are ensuring that our health care system works for everybody, are helping to preserve planet and fight against climate change. it is remarkable what you can do with your talents and it doesn't always get a lot of publicity but you can make a meaningful difference. one of the reasons i wanted to come back is to recruit you, to stay engaged, get involved, make a difference. it doesn't mean you have to run for office or even have to work for government. there are a lot of ways of serving. but i do hope that one of the things that you will take away from our discussion today and your extraordinary education here at university of chicago is
the incredible high that you can get from serving this country. with that, what do you want to talk about, david? >> well, let me start back when you were here as a teacher and taught constitutional law, thinking about the supreme court and thinking about the justices and what umade someone a great justice or successful justice. but you're in a different spot now. >> uh-huh. >> has your thinking changed? >> surprisingly, not as much as you would have expected. obviously we're having a substantial argument in washington right now about not just a particular judge but also about the process of appointing judges to the federal courts and appointing nominees to the
supreme court, and to get this out of the way merrick garland is an extraordinary jurist who is in disputably qualified to serve on the highest court of the land, and nobody really argues otherwise. i just want to be clear here. if the question is qualifications and excellence it is uniformly viewed by not just democrats but also republicans, those who have served, lawyers, judges, legal scholars, members of the current supreme court, that he is as good of a judge as we have in this country right now. that he's fair, he's smart, he's objective, a consensus builder. he shows judicial restraint.
he's appreciative of the unique role of the court but also respectful of the role of the other branches of government. so no one has plausibly made an argument this is not the kind of person we'd want on the supreme court. the question then becomes, why is it so hard for the guy just to get a hearing and a vote, and this speaks to what's happened generally when it comes to the process of appointing federal judges. it used to be that people read the constitution and article ii powers straightforwardly, it says the president shall make these nominations with advice and consent of the senate, unless there was some sort of real problem with that judge's
character or qualifications, it was fairly routine, at every level, both at the district court level, appellate court level, and the supreme court, that the person would be confirmed in short order. there would be a hearing, people would ask potential judge a question or two or five or ten. there would be questionnaires, and once they satisfactorily performed that process, then the senate would vote. and it was pruped, it was understood just as the president had a constitutional duty to make the appointment, that the senate had a constitutional duty to at least make a determination as to whether this person should be on the bench. what has been unique in this process has been the growing
attitude inside of the senate that every nomination, no matter how well-qualified a judge is, is a subject of contention. in some cases it's simply because one party or the other wants to gum up the works, and so they will drag out confirmations longer and longer, even if ultimately the judge gets confirmed by voice vote, by unanimous consent in the senate, they'll drag it out for two or three months because if you're bogged down with judges, then it means other business can't be done. so sometimes it's just strategic. in other cases, the view has been that, despite all of the talk of people wanting objective judges who are just calling balls and strikes and don't bring any views to bear, that there are litmus tests that are applied that prevent a judge
from getting a fair vote on though they're qualified because they don't meet the particular views of the party that's objecting. and this problem got bad enough in previous administrations but came to a head under my administration in which we had a situation where we were starting to see six months pass or nine months pass before a judge could get a hearing. it was -- this was when democrats were in charge of the senate but because of the particular rules of the filibuster that previously had been used for just a few thingsing but now were routinely deployed on everything, we just couldn't get judges through and you started seeing a crisis in vacancies across districts and circuits everywhere.
finally, the. democrats said we're ending the ability for senate members to filibuster when it comes to district court and appellate court judge but was wire going to preserve it for the supreme court. we now have a situation, after judge scalia's passing, in which it's not just that the republican majority in the senate intend to vote against a highly qualified judge, we now have a situation where they're saying we simply will not consider the nomination itself. we're just going to shut down the process. and as a consequence, we have a 4-4 tie on the supreme court and potentially at least two supreme court terms in which this vacancy will remain. that is unprecedented. not only are they not willing to hold a vote at this point, they
have refused to hold hearings on judge garland, and in some cases, mitch mcconnell and others have said we will not even show the courtesy of meeting with the judge to find out what he thinks. i think what's important for all of you to understand, because you're going to be not just lawyers appearing in court potentially but custodians of our legal system and our democracy, is if you start getting into a situation in which the process of appointing judges is so broken, so partisan that an imminently qualified jurist can not even get a hearing, then we are going to see the kinds of sharp partisan polarization that have come to
characterize our electoral politics seeping entirely into the judicial system, and the courts will be just an extension of our legislatures and our elections and our politics, and that erodes the institutional integrity of the judicial branch. at that point, people lose confidence in the ability of the courts to fairly adjudicate case and controversies. and our democracy can't afford that, our system is designed to make sure that this branch works and it requires a broad consensus, even if we don't agree on any particular ruling the court's ruling itself are legitimate and consisten w