tv MSNBC News Live MSNBC August 4, 2009 3:00pm-4:00pm EDT
>> the white house has emphasized that this is private citizen bill clinton involved in this. what does that mean? the stories that it may have been a north korean -- there have been rumors that former presidential gore, since it's his television network that these two journalists work for, it was said that he would go there. but in the past, governor bill richardson of new mexico have stayed high profile trips to north korea north to secure the release either of remains in the past or of actual live detainees, hostages, however you want to term it. it appears it may have come from that. we still don't have the back story because the white house is being very mum about this. and they want to wait, i think, until, as robert emphasized today in the briefing. when president clinton is no longer in north korea, they will have something to say, so it does seem they want to wait until they have the two
journalists in the former president's custody or whatever you want to call it. >> does that seem very likely, though, chuck? >> reporter: the history, yes, i think there seems to be some optimism on this front. as you can tell, while robert said very little at the briefing, he did say, look, they have always thought that the nuclear issue in trying to negotiate with the north koreans is totally separate from when there is a situation like this, when there is in this case two americans detained by the north korean government and that they believe the two issues are completely split. this is different, why? because he's not just the former president, he's the husband of the actual secretary of state. so why wouldn't there be some back channeling? one thing that robert did completely say was not true, was inaccurate, was that north korean media report that claimed that former president clinton carried a message from president obama to the north korean government. >> clinton we know, there have been insults exchanged if you
can categorize them as such, she perceived to be their behavior in negotiations. now you've got the former president mix, it's an incredible story that can't be told until he gets back? >> reporter: that's right, and the minute i think he's out of north korea, we expect to hear something from the former president or from the white house. when he leaves the air space is my guess is when we will wear officially from the u.s. government on this? >> incredible. and tamron, now to the big picture, never mind the incredible story would be if those two journalists were able to come out with bill clinton, what about bill clinton's new role back on the world stage? it wasn't too long ago that clinton was seen as a potential liability for the obama administration.
the story in "newsweek" about president clinton's migs and this trip could be clinton's second chance in pyongyang. this still marks a big moment for kim, it's a sort of recognition that the north korean leader has been eager to have for more than a decade. bill clinton man all but absent from the news since obama took office. so as the president's post white house legacy continues to be shaped, how much of it might be shaped by views overseas. kevin sullivan is a "washington post" foreign editor, and kevin is it also the expectation overseas that bill clinton is going to come out of north korean with these two american journalists? >> i think everyone believes there was some sort of a deal premixed here, that bill clinton wouldn't go unless he thought he
would have success and that the north koreans wouldn't say no to a man they respect. >> what is the view of bill clinton overseas. >> bill clinton is still a wildly popular man, at least everywhere in the world that i have been. someone who was friendly to other countries in the world, who appreciated america's role as a neighbor in the world and as someone who understand relations between our countries and why they were important. and he's incredibly popular. >> kevin, chuck todd just talked about the complexities of dealing with north korea, there's the official state media and what they have said about hillary clinton. how complicated is the diplomatic dance in bill clinton's dance, how careful he needs to be? >> he needs to be very, very
careful. he needs to draw a very clear line between the case of these two journalists and the nuclear question. it's not realistic to believe what the white house is hoping for here, they would like to create a better atmosphere here. i think the white house feels it is in their best interests to have north korea come back to the table and north korea is looking for the prestige that a visit from bill clinton would be. he doesn't want to directly link these things, he doesn't want to do the things that jimmy carter did which is get involved with negotiations which should have been held between the white house and north korea. he just has to be very careful to make nice with the north koreans and leave the rest to the white house. >> there's the north korean news agency and it's not been confirmed by msnbnbc, but they
reporting that the white house has created negotiated a special pardon for the journalists. but as far as how this story will play out, would you expect that first word about the american journalists and the possible success of bill clinton would first come from pyongyang. >> something like pardon is something that they will use because that means that there was a crime commit. and i think that the north koreans want to say to the world, these people did something wrong, they were tried and found guilty in our legal system, but as a favor to the united states and as a hum humanitarian gesture, they are now going to pardon then. >> kevin sullivan, "the washington post" foreign editor. and tamron just in the few seconds we have been on, now it says that kim jong-il has ordered the release of the two journalists. this is a huge story on so many
levels, whether it's bill clinton's legacy, or the personal story of these american journali journalists, it's unbelievable. >> both of these individuals would make for a powerful team, even if it was behind the scenes and we're seeing that now and i cannot wait to hear more from chuck todd and others about the back story of how this was put together, because with her approval, and it came with her approval and his role. the white house is fighting fire with fire. the administration is combatting the drudge record and other than internet sites on what they say is distortions. the site claims it's proof that the president wants to get rid of private health insurance. >> i don't think we're going to be able to eliminate employover coverage immediately. i can envision a decade out or
15 years out or 20 years out. >> is the white house health care committee is releasing -- tv savvy turned white house communications expert linda douglass. >> what happens is that because he's talking to the american people so much, there are people out there with a computer and a lot of free time and they take a phrase here and there and they cherry pick it and put it together and make it sound like something he didn't really say. >> he's afternoon joe right now, thank you for joining us. >> just like midnight for me. >> but this is incredible, now they're going viral and competing messages. does anyone win when you take someone's words out of context? that's what the white house is saying about the drudge report and where the president stands on public options. >> i looked at the drudge report just to see what the lathes was. now the drudge report has put the full unedited clip on and
they have it in screaming red headlines right at the top. of course the drudge report loves this and if you see the whole clip it's still going to cause consternation. >> the president did a poor job of saying this is what health care reform is in plain black and white language rather than being so negotiableable on so many fronts. >> in 1995, we tried to pass welfare reform so you had the ads saying we were going to throw little children out in the streets. medicaid reform, we're going to throw old people out on the street. president bush tried social reform and -- you had -- when you want to transform a system systematically, there's going to
be part of it that are going to be able to be used against you. >> with all those things you name, they didn't have a blueprint of how you can make mistakes, with the clinton health care reform, we have a list of things not to do from the '90s. >> i agree with you tamron, you want to be careful not to second guess this white house, especially, because the political instincts have just been so incredible. but i will say, i'm still confused six months later as to why they continue to turn these huge issues over to nancy pelosi and congress. i served in congress and whether democrats are running congress or republicans are running congress, it's a really dysfunctional place. so, yes, they have lost control of their message, because it's not even their messages, because it's nancy pelosi's message. it's ted kennedy's message. and it makes it a lot harder to say, no, no, no, this is what
health care reform is going to be about. whether it was bill clinton and health care reform whether it was newt gingrich and welfare reform in 1995, both of those guys said, this is our vision, this is what we're going to do and this is how we drive the message. president obama, david axelrod and robert gibbs are at a little bit of a disadvantage right now because there are so many targets to shoot at. >> great having you on, joe, given all of that, where do you think this is all headed. the democrats draw a line in the sand in mid-september, if they don't by any republicans they'll go it alone, will they really do that. >> nancy pelosi came out today and said, i believe, there's no way progressives are going to vote against the health care plan. i think you and i both know what's going to happen, you're going to have -- when republicans are in charge, it's a moderate republican senators.
when democrats are in charge, it's a i think that's where we're going to end up, we're going to end up with a bill that claire mccaskill can end in on capitol hill. it may be a little bit closer to what the blue dogs want than what henry waxman and ted kennedy want, but that's unfortunate for progress sifs who got elected and thought they controlled washington just like conservatived thought they controlled washington. washington is a krr frustrating part for ideal logs. it's going to happen here too. i predict, david, we're going to have a plan that is really progressive in protecting the rights of consumers, you may not have a strong public option, but you will have a plan where insurance companies won't be able to bump people off, if they have preexisting conditions.
consumer safety such as that, that's going to probably rule the day and it's not going to be what those on the left would want. >> the a.p. is confirming that euna lee and laura ling sentenced to 12 years of hard labor camp are free. we all woke up to the surprising news of former president bill clinton has secured the release of these two people. this many are saying about him getting over there and opening doors than it is about thankfully these women being free. >> it's just so great for the families of these women, these journalists as they're freed up. think about what a great opportunity the obama administration has. they can send over president clinton, say he was a private citizen, and yet, he gave the north koreans something that they craved, and that is they wanted respect, barack obama, hillary clinton, they couldn't
talk to them. but we can't do it, why don't we send bill clinton. and you can tell this deal was done even before he went. >> there's no embarrassment of him coming home without them, it's never going to happen. >> we're going to give you bill clinton who's a superstar on the international stage, you give us the two journalists we give you the correct back. >> it's a way for you to use bill clinton. who came one this? >> i say this as a guy who has grown to really appreciate bill clinton. i think it was bill clinton, i got an idea. because bill clinton, it's going to be frustrating for bill clinton to have the stature he has on the international stage and to be kept in a box. and i'm hoping this is just one of many things bill clinton is able to do on the international stage. i think there are a lot of great possibilities for him in the future. >> one of the people that greeted the former president was
the chief nuclear minister of north korea. >> right. >> does this move the ball forward with this threat? >> i don't think so. i think that's going to be hard work the other clinton's going to have to work on. >> bill clinton had a war of words. >> maybe we can send the president to iran right now. there's several reporters in iran that are being held, including one for "newsweek." who knows? it's certainly a win-win for everybody today. >> joe, i got a question for you. >> yeah? >> when can we get you back? we love having you on, joe. >> it's great. i just wander around here aimlessly all day. so any time you want me back, i would love to be on. >> mika will book you on the spot. apparently david shuster has been watching. >> i will do it. it's great to be here. >> you can see "morning joe" every day here on msnbc.
others and north korea accused them of spying and illegally entering the country. word is now they have been released or ordered to be released after a visit to korea by former president bill clinton. and we obviously are getting a lot of reaction and waiting for reaction, official word from the white house. but right now we have a planned guest with us and that is of course transportation secretary ray la hood, we booked the secretary to talk about cash for clunkers and where this is going, but i've got to get your reaction quickly to this. what do you have to say. >> this is thrilling, it's a wonderful opportunity for these two women to come back to america and these things usually develop when you send somebody with very strong diplomatic skills and certainly nobody as good a diplomatic skills as president clinton, congratulations to him and also it's a thrill for the families.
everybody in america is going to be happy about this story. >> absolutely. >> and secretary la hood, while we wait for more official reaction, we may have to cut you off, let's go ahead and talk about the cash for clunkers program, the reason we wanted you to come on, the house approved extra money on the rebate program that's proven so popular that it's costing the government more than it had been anticipa anticipated. what about the argument that this has been managed poorly, that there hasn't been a way to pay for this yet, the argument that's keeping some republicans from joining you on this? >> david, really the program obviously has been wildly successful, why the time the billion dollars is completely spent, 250,000 cars will have been sold, within four days we went through almost $600 million
and sold over 150,000 automobiles and almost all of them were trucks and suvs that are gas guzzlers and people are buying more fuel efficient cars. this is a wildly popular program and wildly successful in the way that it was carried out and the american people get it and that's why they're continuing to show up in show rooms and buy automobiles. and the money really comes from part of the stimulus, the energy part of the stimulus plan, we're not asking the senate to appropriate money or to put money in out of the general fund, it's coming from money that was already considered in the stimulus plan and passed by congress. >> here's one of the problems that's been identified. if somebody walk into a show room today and they want to trade in an suv that getting 18-mile-per-hour for an suv that gets 20 miles an hour, they get $2,500, but if i want to trade
my car in for a toyota prius, i get a rebate of zero. what do you say to people who want to make that kind of trade and improve the fuel si of cars even more? >> we're trying to take c 0ro2 . the prius is a batteries operated vehicle. when you look at cars that people want to buy today t ford focus is the number one selling car and we are reducing a good deal of co2 out of the air. >> what a >> -- i believe the senate will pass this bill in the next few days. >> transportation secretary ray la hood, thank you for coming on and for taking the question about north korea as well.
there's so many moving pieces here, but i do think it's not so far out of line for us to suggest that this story out of north korea is going to be the dominant story for the next day or so. it's got all the great pieces, it's got the incredible personal story of these two journalists who have been there for several months. >> and we can finally find out what happened because we can hear from them in their own words. >> and bill clinton is back, and it's just an incredible story of rescue and political coming back and so many other levels. >> we're interviewing transportation secretary ray la hood and we're getting information in about this and we're trying to find out when or if the white house will comment on this because as you will know, david, we were saying this is solely a private trip on behalf of the former president and he's extended himself on many occasions of voice after the tsunami, after hurricane
katrina, so we have seen him reach out in many ways, nothing like this before, but as joe scarborough pointed out, there's probably no chance he would be leaving without word that these women would be released. this was a deal that had been worked out and was secured, and they knew it was going to play out as it has. we're going to go to the break and be right back with hopefully more details on it. undefeated professional boxer floyd "money" mayweather has the fastest hands boxing has ever seen.
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welcome back. we continue to follow breaking news, waiting to hear word from the white house on the new developments that north korean leader kim jong-il has granted a special pardon for two american journalists who have been held in that country since march, after a very high-profile visit from former president bill clinton, the highest level contact with north korea since
clinton was president more than a decade ago. we're waiting for the white house to give reaction to these two journalists now being pardoned after being sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in a north korean prison and david, i understand we're waiting on our colleague, norah o'donnell. nora is ready. let's talk to norah, the news broke this morning, just the magnitude of this, you've got secretary of state clinton, but then you have this enormous power and that being the former president stepping into the conversation, it's incredible. >> reporter: this is a huge deal, this is a huge story for a number of reasons. i think what we're seeing now is all of the pieces starting to fall into place and this could be a success. the reason we're not hearing the white house or other officials comment at this point is because they don't want to jeopardize the success of this. as soon as bill clinton and his whole team is in that plane
along with these two journalists and they are wheeled up, that's when we're going to hear something that actually those women who have been held for 4 1/2 months in north korea are on their way home. here's what we know, tamron. we know that now former president bill clinton along with former white house chief of sta staff pedesta, that they have been on the ground for about 18 hours that, they met with kim jong-il, that's really significant, because the last time a senior u.s. official met with them was madeleine albright and jimmy carter in 1994. it's been reported, i should say that former president clinton has met with the two women journalists and i think what we're waiting on now, tamron is when they're going to be wheeled up from north korea and on their way back home. that's what we're all waiting for, nobody wants to say anything in terms of official
u.s. reaction until that actually happens. >> the expectation that these two american journalists will be on the plane with president clinton? >> that is the indication, that has not been confirmed, but that is the implication that happened. they are worried about the health of those women. euna lee has had a history of ulcers, so there's been some concern about her health condition. they have been sentenced to 12 years of hard labor, and there's been reports of them actually staying in one of these government houses so they have not been subject to harsh conditions. she has a young child at home so there are concerns about their health and surely the president would want to return with them to the united states. that is the expectation that
that would happen. >> and we just heard joe scarborou scarborough, from his perspective saying this is what north korea wanted is some powerful acknowledgement. we don't want to move too far past these journalists because one is a woman and their families desperately wanted their return home. but this is larger than just securing the release of these women. >> and joe is right. i spoke with michael green is a former asia expert on the national security council under president george w. bush who said this is a propaganda coup for kim jong-il. to have bill clinton there, to say this got bill clinton there. bill clint kim jong-il and the state-run news agency said they had exhausted takes on a whole range of issues, this is about a private issue, this is not about
the nuclear issue that the united states has with north korea. and clearly, kim jing ill ong-i going to use this as a propaganda tool. what i'm curious about is how much intelligence we can glean through former president clinton as well as some of the other officials. we will learn about that dictatorship, that reclusive regime, because in the past couple of years, they have developed enough plutonium for about half a dozen nuclear weapons. >> we'll see what happens, thank you very much for your insight and reporting as well. we also are getting reaction from a number of people we heard from treasury secretary ray lewis, but we also have with us pennsylvania governor ed rendel with us to talk about an
interesting senatorial race. governor can you respond to it? >> sure, obviously it's good news because of the two young women involved, the fact that they have their freedom is first and foremost. secondly, i think it shows the power and impact that bill clinton still has around the world and president obama using him as an emissary is a good thing and i think you'll see that continue over the next several years. and thirdly, i have got to believe that it's a signal from the north koreans that they're willing to talk and that there may be a change in their attitude towards the overall larger problems that we're confronted with. >> governor rendel, you have known bill clinton for a long time, i'm sure that we're getting every indication that bill clinton didn't tell more than a few people that he was even making this trip.
but what do you think that the disposition of your friend bill clinton in terms of this trip? and secondly, what goes through your mind when you imagine something that norah was talking about, and that is bill clinton debriefing the white house and the cia in terms of what the situation is right now with the amo pyongyang leadership. >> first of all, i would like to be in the room. that would be a hoot just to hear that. but bill clinton and most of all, and i know the president and he does wonderful things all around the world with his foundation, but i think for all of us who leave office, the question is, are we still relevant, can we still make a difference in people's lives and i think the president is feeling a great sense of reward here in a sense that he's help freed these two young women, i think he's probably personally elated number one. number two, i think he will be a very good respondent in providing information to the obama administration about the
issues that you raised. i think a lot of us americans who love bill clinton still feel good that he's being put to great use. >> i know governor rendel that you also love politics, so we're going to turn up the heat on you a little bit. because joe slestac announced that he's going to be running against arlen specter. a quinnipiac poll, does arlen specter deserve to be re-ele re-elected, yes 40%, no 49%. do you have any qualms against supporting arlen specter and that he might be a better general election candidate for the democratic party. >> not at all, david, first of all, i never base my decisions in policy or politics based on polls. if i read polls i wouldn't have
become governor of pennsylvani., number two if you do read polls on a head to head, senator specter is ahead 2-1. but arlen specter is suffering from what we're all suffering from, my favorability has been taking a pounding recently. anybody that's in office during this period of deep recession is going to take a little bit of a pounding, but i think pennsylvanians know what democrats have done and in particularly what arlen specter has done. when he cast the vote for the stimulus and made president obama's stimulus a reality, when he cast that vote, he knew exactly what he was doing, he was signing his death warrant in the republican party, and he did it because he believed in it. it's very hard to cast a vote that you know your constituency
and at that time his constituency was the republican party is vehemently against. >> we're going to lose our window here, governor ed rendel from pennsylvania, and governor thank you for joining us. >> we'll have you back on, right? >> okay. good to see you guys. >> and tamron, fascinating political news out of pennsylvania with this democratic interparty sort of primary fight, but the big news is the two american journalists being released and you can imagine the sigh of relief not only in pennsylvania but all across the country. but al gore set up his television network, these two journalists were working with them. after 4 1/2 months, their colleagues are being released. we will have much more on their release and the new role that has been shown to light of former president bill clinton.
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a simpler way to ship. the associated press says that two american journalists held against their will in north korea for 4 1/2 months are being released in conjunction with a visit to north korea by bill clinton. it's great news for the journalists and their families, it's also terrific news for the legacy of bill clinton. you're watching the big picture on msnbc. these days, when you have to spend,
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that the two journalists have been released. other reports saying they will be released. bill clinton after 18 hours there, and extensive and intensive meetings with kim jong-il securing the freedom of these two american journalists so many are wondering now is bill back? >> the legacy of bill clinton defined by your capitol hill views but does that change because of what he can do in a situation like this? joining us right now. amanda carpenter, she's a reporter for "the washington times." amanda, i think we all are thrilled that bill clinton was able to get these women out. but as far as bill clinton's legacy, i'll let you have the first crack, how does this change it? >> i think it does change it. he deserves kudos for this. he took a huge political risk in traveling over there, he didn't have to go, he didn't have to chip in and step up to the plate
and do this but he did. and it looks like he was successful and i these this certainly helps him with the democratic party. hillary clinton talks about smart diplomat si, and this is maybe a part of that. coming off of that 2008 democratic primary where he was questioned about raising racial issues against president obama. >> there have been some tensions, at least some concerns early on between the obama white house and the clintons and what role bill clinton might play, whether he might prove to be a distraction to secretary of state hillary clinton, his wife. in terms of how the white house will handle this, there's a lot of people who are going to want to take credit. should we be looking at who might be wanting to take the attention away from bill clinton and say no ahead of time that this was -- >> i hope they don't do that because that would be awful liz
silly. that would be very silly. you think bill clinton went there without having a deal ahead of him? of course they had a deal. that doesn't mean you should take any credit away from bill clinton. without bill clinton they might not have had the deal. maybe the deal was you bring bill clinton here and we make this transfer happen for you. my main take away is diplomacy work and maybe teamwork works when you have the obama administration working with the clintons. >> amanda, i don't want to throw fire into a situation that certainly is one of celebration for these families, but when you talk about the clintons here, could there be a story line made up that the former president is upstaging secretary of state clinton? after all, she is the secretary of state and this would be the role many would expect for her to be very visibility at this point? >> i think this could complicate things for hillary clinton down the road because this is sort of come out of nowhere. everyone is aware of the highly
inflammatory remarks that were made to the secretary in the run up to this. so i think there's going to be a lot of discussion of whether mr. clinton had to smooth things over for his wife, but, again, he took a big risk in going over tlsm he didn't have to do it. he was successful. i don't want any questions to come up like that unless there's another problem perhaps down the road. >> well, and i wonder if the congress might also be -- while i suppose tamron is absolutely right there could be -- this could suggest maybe in some fashion hillary clinton is weak in some fashion, but on the other hand it also does suggest that hillary clinton deserves an enormous amount of credit for signing off on this perhaps at her own political expense simply for the humanity of trying to get these two americans out no matter what it took, no matter how much hillary clinton might have to suffer in the future in terms of views of her. >> i can't believe anyone would actually say that. hillary clinton has something in her back pocket that nobody else
has, bill clinton, and she can use that weapon at any time and obviously is works. which other secretary of state could have had that. you have to give obama credit for picking her as secretary of state because it allows something like this to happen. it's an advantage certainly no republican has. >> i want you both to react to something. our colleague norah o'donnell just sent us a copy of a story where john boulton is calling this perilously close to negotiating with terrorists and saying bill clinton is rewarding north korea for bad hearing, saying this is close to negotiating with terrorists. amanda? >> well, i think this probably comes from the fact that again north korea made highly inflammatory remarks towards secretary clinton and they did get a former president to go visit them and try to smooth things over. i didn't expect the political debate to start over this as quickly, but as we can see, it has. you're probably going to see
more of that. >> yeah. maybe criticism -- i was going to make a appointment. maybe criticism of a former president never stops at the water's edge. we have to take a break. we'll come right back. a fascinating story that continues to develop. we'll continue to follow it here on msnbc on "the big picture. ♪ [ female announcer ] arthritis targets your body where it's weak. where it's vulnerable. ♪ tylenol arthris works with your body to block the pain, without interfering with certain high blood pressure medicines like aleve sometimes can. ♪ so you don't just feel better, you feel better knowing doctors recommend tylenol more than any other brand of pain reliever. ♪
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good afternoon, everyone. i'm tamron hall live in new york. >> hey, tamron, i'm david shuster live in washington. we will begin "the big picture" with breaking news about one of the most intriguing diplomatic efforts in years. north korea's official news agency is now reporting that kim jong-il has ordered the release of two jailed american journalists, laura ling and euna lee. north korean news says the women were issued a special pardon. this coincides with a visit to north korea by former president bill clinton. he's been meeting today in pyongyang with the communist leadership working to secure the freedom of the two journalists. north korea accused the reporters of illegally crossing into the country on march 17th. they were convicted this spring of engaging in hostile acts and were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. >> now to the bigger picture on this, why did the north korean regime agree to let the two women go and when will they make it back home? former president clinton has been on the ground in north korea for about 20 hours now. as we get the report from north
korean news, the journalists have been released. we also have a statement, let's bring in msnbc chief white house correspondent norah o'donnell. before you tell us what you've been able to get, we have this statement from the family members, and it says in part the families of laura ling and euna lee are overjoyed by the news of their pardon. we are so grateful to our government, president obama, secretary clinton, and the u.s. state department for their dedication to and hard work on behalf of american citizens. we want to especially thank president bill clinton for taking on such an arduous mission and vice president al gore for his tireless efforts to bring laura and ewe una home. official reaction from the families. put together the pieces we do know and explain why the white house is so guarded right now about how this all came about. >> reporter: clearly the family overjoyed learning that after 4 1/2 months that these two journalists are going to be coming home, back to the united states. but everything i'm picking up from a number of u.s. officials here in washington and all of