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tv   Weekends With Alex Witt  MSNBC  May 20, 2012 12:00pm-2:00pm EDT

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siemens. answers. hi, everybody, great to have you with me today, it's high noon in the east, 9:00 out west, welcome to "weekends with witness witness." alex has the day off. here are some of the stories trending this hour. lockerbie bomber's death. a surprise storm. facebook founder stuns friends with a new status. and emotional "snl" stand off, and on the brink of history. we lead off with breaking news that nbc nbc news has that the man responsible for killing 270 people in the lockerbie bombing has died in libya. abdel baset al megrahi was convicted in the 1988 lockerbie bombing when a bomb exploded on pan am flight 103. in august of 2009, megrahi
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returned to libya, he had been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer and was expected to die within three months. but it took two years and nine months. joining me is bert amorman whose brother died on pan am flight 10. we're glad to have you here to help put it into context for what it's like for families. when you get this news, what's your reaction to abdel baset al megrahi's death. >> pleased. i much likely would have been angered if gadhafi wasn't overthrown and killed. when he was released in 2009, it was an act of betrayal for our government and the british government for oil and big business, but with gadhafi being kill, he was the big fish and in that day megrahi became the big act for me. the part that's being missed is we arrested sanoosi in may mauritania, he knew what other countries were involved. i'm concerned that our
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government and the british government doesn't have the stomach to find the truth. i think it will lead to the door of iran. >> when we talk about the fact that he was released, al megrahi was on compassionate grounds from scotland in 2009. they gave him three months to live because he was so sick. how did you feel then and as you say, the big difference was made with gadhafi being killed last year. >> when he was released, that was the most angry i was in the 24-year saga. that was a despicable act. the act of compassion was when he got life in prison. this man was responsible for blowing 270 people out of air at 39,000 feet we know that some of the passengers lived the entire 31,000 feet that was unacceptable and still is today. >> when we hear about the death. obviously coming after again last year with, moammar gadhafi's killing, certainly this has to bring some, check off some boxes in terms of
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closure. closure such an odd term for family members to have gone through what you have gone through. there isn't such a thing most likely. but when we talk about the fact of this new arrest, do you think that al megrahi was much more of a red herring in certain aspects of things to take the heat off of other countries who may be involved and we may never really know the truth. >> possibly. when i met with bush 41 on april 3rd in the oval office in 1989 i said this was not a criminal act, this was an act of intelligence and if the president had enough intelligence, they should act independently from a criminal aeven. there's no question that when megrahi was indicted. there were people in the bush administration or the john major administration, were cursing a blue storm because they would have to be involved with other countries, it's my personal belief that iran and syria were involved. i base it on discussions i had with an fbi agent and a scottish investigator, both involved with the entire investigation and both of them independently said to he me there's no evidence to
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tie in iran and syria, but we both personally believe along with others that iran and syria were involved. >> do you feel that pan am families still need to push on this in. >> absolutely. every time i come and i've been here many times, everyone says it's the last chapter. i really would like the last chapter to take place, the last chapter is now in the hands of president obama, with this fellow sanussi, i would like nothing better than to meet with president obama to encourage him and to state, you have the gentleman that knows the truth, now get it no matter where it takes, for 24 years the families have only said one thing, we just want to find the truth. it's not complete yet. there's one more chapter to be written and president obama holds those cards. >> bert, thanks for your time and insights, it's appreciated, thanks again. other top story right now is the drama that's playing out as we speak in chicago. nato summit opening today. against this -- a backdrop of protests and a foiled terror plot. we have live reports on both, but we start with nato. which is focusing on afghanistan
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and nbc's kristen welker is live for us in chicago. kristen, we have these key talks to focus on between president obama and afghan president hamid karzai. bring us up to speed on the later from there. >> good afternoon to you, thomas, president obama and afghan president, hamid karzai about to sit down for a discussion momentarily. this is of course a relationship that has been fraught with tensions over the past several years. but it's a critical moment in this relationship. president obama, hamid karzai are going to have to work together to chart a course for the troop withdrawal out of afghanistan. united states troops and its nato allies. that's going to be at the center of these talks here. at the nato summit. as the united states and its nato allies figure out exactly how this troop withdrawal is going to take place. and more importantly, thomas, how they're going to pay for it senior administration officials estimate it will cost about $4 billion every year over the next ten years to fund afghan security forces.
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united states is prepared to shoulder about two-thirds of that financial burden. but they're looking for monetary pledges from other countries. they got about 60% of what they were looking for heading into the summit so they're going to be looking for some more pledges over the next 48 hours. that is not an easy feat. because remember, you're-of-europe is in the midst of its own economic crisis. so that certainly complicates matters. on friday, president obama met with france's new elected president, francois hollande who said he was going to keep his campaign promise to withdraw french troops by 2012, well before the 2014 deadline in which nato forces will be withdrawing their troops. but he did say, thomas, that he would be open to supporting the you united states withdrawal in other ways. >> kristen welker reporting from chicago, thank you for us. we're going to have a report on the upcoming protests in chicago, that's coming up at the bottom of the hour. so stick around for that. big headlines on the front page politics today, with the battle over the economy playing out on "meet the press."
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democratic senator dick durbin of illinois and republican house budget chair, paul ryan of wisconsin, offered their takes, including lessons the u.s. can learn from the debt crisis in enveloping europe. >> what we're saying is let's get on growth and prevent austerity. the whole premise of our budget is to preempt austerity by getting our borrowing under control, having tax reform and preventing medicare, social security and medicare from going bankrupt. >> what the president says and i agree, don't eliminate the basic things that middle income americans need to succeed. the opportunity to own a home, have an education for your children. these are things unfortunately cut by paul's budget in the house of representatives. >> meanwhile, senator marco rubio unleashed sharp words aimed at president obama, the florida republican, who has been rumored as a potential vice presidential pick, was the keynote speaker last night at a gop dinner in columbia, south carolina. and he waste nod time offering his critique of the president.
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>> we have not seen such a divisive figure in modern american history as we have over the last three and a half years. today on issue after issue, cause after cause, the strategy that the white house and this party is employing is a destructive one. that pits americans against each other. rich versus poor. men versus women. never have we seen such an effort to divide the american people. and an effort to win an election as we have seen today. >> meanwhile, on another note, the board of the naacp, the nation's most prominent civil rights group, passed a resolution saturday, endorsing same-sex marriage as a civil right. the resolution also opposes any efforts to quote codify discrimination or hatred into the law. joining me for more front-page politics, cnbc washington correspondent, political write,
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harwood and the reporter for the "washington post," niyamalik henderson. this announcement the resolution from the naacp and the board voting to endorse marriage equality as a civil right. what do you make of this move? and ha do you make of the timing of the decision of the board on the heels of president obama's historic announcement? >> this is obviously big news. you've seen the naacp and some prominent civil rights leaders being on the side of this issue. on this side of the issue for quite some time. al sharpton campaigned for same-sex marriage in 2004. i think you're seeing a coalescing around this issue. civil rights leaders coming out and saying this is a matter of marriage equality. and that it isn't correct to write discrimination into the constitution. you have seen from the white house some effort as well to reach out to these civil rights leaders to reach out to pastors, to also come out and essentially support what the white house's
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position on this, is that two people of the same sex should be allowed to get married. cultural move as well, figures like jay-z, floyd mayweather come out and talk and tweet about this as well. there's been real movement on this, biden obviously kicked it off. you saw president obama take this up. and of course now with these big civil rights organizations coming out on the same page. >> john, how did the president's endorsement of marriage equality influence what the naacp has done? and why does it matter so much in an election year? >> i don't think the naacp wants to be on wrong side of an important social issue from the first african-american president. i'm not sure how important it is, frankly, because you know, the naacp is an historic organization, it has some symbolic value. but the real test for the president in among african-american voters is going to be in churches all around the country. in some of those swing states. and whether there is in fact significant resistance. my instinct, it's not going to hurt the president all that much with african-americans, but i don't think the naacp is going
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to solve that problem itself. >> do you think with an announcement like that hearts and minds from different preachers, that are on those pulpits every sunday with those church pews filled will be able to influence how people have been thought to perceive what something, something that they thought they were not supposed to be encouraged to like. >> i think when the naacp, when you get out into the country is not an organization that has really deep roots and is seen in essence like a political actor in washington, like a lot of other political organizations. i think ministers themselves have more clout on this issue than the naacp as an organization. and how they process this, how their congregations process it, i think will be ultimately decisive. >> nia-ma leaka, it's better than the naacp coming out to contradict the president. >> that's right. i think what you see is is a real shift in the way people talk about same-sex marriage. there had been reluctance among folks, among black americans to
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frame same-sex marriage as a civil rights issue. and you see now that people are lining up and framing it in just that way. i do think, i agree with john to a certain extent, that the naacp doesn't have the sort of deep roots in you know, among black americans, but i think again, with this sort of wholesale, all hands on deck approach to same-sex marriage, naacp, jay-z, black pastors coming out, writing editorials in support of this and framing it as a civil rights issue, i do think it will matter. i want to in move on, we had sparks when we had obama campaign senior adviser david axelrod, rnc chairman rainc raince priebus. reverend wright, where a superpac was presented with a pitch. >> we wish that governor romney would stand up as strongly and resolutely consistently to
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refute these kinds of things on his side and instead, he's amplified them in the past and put logs on that fire. and that's not leadership. >> mitt romney repudiated this particular issue. >> the democrats and barack obama that want the story out there, he wants the story to play out in the media. because for every day that david axelrod and this president don't have to talk about their broken promises when it comes to jobs, the debt, and the deficit and the more time they can spend talking about hypotheticals that may or may not come true, is a day that they want to win on. >> john, let me start with you. hypotheticals that may not come true. this does put it out there in the atmosphere, the fact that this was pitched out there. it may not have been seized upon. however, it's being seized upon for the dialogue to push forward the news cycle. >> i do think prebus is correct, this is a beneficial story to democrats. it is ridiculous to think that after president obama has been in office for three years, that they're going to be people out there who are swayed by this issue, who were not swayed in 2008. who have not already drawn their
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own conclusions about who president obama is. and by linking republican activists, republican donor, republican superpacs to this inflammatory, racially-continuinged attack, can only help the democrats, that's why mitt romney repeated it and that's why president obama said about february, when mitt romney referred to rechbd wright, that was then, this is now. he's trying to avoid things that drag him down with the middle of the electorate. >> isn't this a problem for the super pacs and the amount of money that can influence elections now and the fact it's a reflection of the company you keep for both sides. because they really don't have to answer to anybody. it really is going to be president obama or mitt romney whose feet get held to the fire about the decisions these super pacs make. >> one of the things this story showed you is that there are many people out there with millions of dollars. and as a result, they can have huge megaphones in this campaign. and in likely have some sort of impact. but i do think you're right.
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the problem with super pacs is that they can go negative, they can go wherever they want in talking about whatever issues they want. but it does go down to the negative, for these candidates. if they're too, if they're seen as too partisan. they've got to in some ways referee, these candidates do. but at the same time, their hands are tied. but i think going forward, we're obviously going to see the super pacs play a large role in this. i think the question is how dirty they'll with. >> nia-malika henderson, john harwood, great to see you both. coming up, headlines in today's west coast papers and in three weeks we may be witness to rare history. but the power of super pacs, could they do more harm than good it their candidates? we'll ask that of the rnc. ok! who gets occasional constipation,
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headlines from the west coast papers now a front-page story in the l.a. times. says is about to pocket millions of dollars in sales taxes paid by california customers. customers in the golden state will start paying sales tax to some online merchants in the fall. now the paper reports that amazon is setting up warehouses in san bernardino and patterson. in exchange the company will get a big chunk of the tax windfall. a sign of our times in the "seattle times" a story about recession generation. class of 2005 and the struggles encountered since high school graduation. many will remain resilient despite struggling to find jobs and carrying the massive student loan debts. and in the "amarillo globe news" a story about the upcoming solar eclipse.
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readers urged to use caution when viewing it. it will visible tonight in parts of california. nevada, arizona, utah, colorado, new mexico and of course in texas. fresh attacks from both parties on the proposal to use reverend jeremiah wright in campaign super pac ads against president obama. house speaker john boehner tried to downplay the debate saying abc's "this week" saying the real issue is the economy. in an election cycle that's been super pacs spend an estimated $100 million. their influence and potential to damage candidates raise serious questions about unchecked power and political spending post-citizens united. joining me is kirsten kurkowsky, national press secretary for the rnc. let's talk about this as we get to the super pacs and there's been a lot of talk about these. the fact that they have no one to answer to. legally, they cannot have contact with the campaign that they're supporting. but considering the latest
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issue, how dangerous do you think super pacs can be to their own candidates, if they are a reflection of the company that the candidates are trying to keep? >> well, i think you know, i think that what this is really going to come down to, is what we have control of, mitt romney's campaign or here at the rnc, is we have control over what our message is. just like the obama campaign has control over their message. the fact that we are talking about reverend wright, the fact that david axelrod went on "state of the union" this morning and talked about reverend wright, means they don't want to talk about their record. they don't want to talk about president obama and his record on jobs. think that that getting them in trouble and i think that's why you have a democrat surrogate, cory booker on "meet the press" this morning, expressing some concern over that kind of messaging coming out of barack obama's campaign. do you think if the super pacs
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are going down this road, why should it be the rnc's job or anyone's job to remind people about what it is you believe people should be talking about, the economy. why aren't super pacs getting the message. if they want to support mitt romney, why don't they try to use the money that they're gaining to promote that? >> think governor romney's campaign, the governor himself, the rnc, chairman priebus have been clear, that we're going to talk about the economy, this election is about jobs, it is about where our country is headed. from an economic perspective. and we have been very clear that we want everyone to join us in that message. that is what we want everyone to be talking about. so i think that in all fairness, we have been pretty explicit that that's what we want to talk about this time. >> do you think that the super pacs tend to and sometimes their goals and sometimes they can get money as we're seeing, the potential for them to get really
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money, do you think it hurts what the rnc, what the dnc for that matter, are trying to do and basically it makes you guys lose power to the super pacs and their intentions. >> as i said before, we're going to be 100% on the economy. we've been explicit about that. and that's what we can do. so every day we're going to be very public about what we want to talk about. the economy, jobs, turning this country around. and that's what we can do. i think we're going to be very vocal about it. >> let's focus right now on looking at the economy and jobs as we take a peek at some of the swing states and the strategy out there. four out of the seven swing states have unemployment rates that are now below the national average of 8.1. how do you believe that mitt romney's message is going to play in these key battleground states that are effectively improving under the current economy, under the current glidens of the obama administration? >> well, unfortunately, for our country, this is much more than a number. to people. this is about how people feel.
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it's about how we feel that the, the direction that our country is going. and that is much more than an unemployment number. when you go to the grocery store, how much you're paying when you go to the check-out line. when you go to the and fill up your gas tank, how much that is costing you. i think that there is a real concern with americans that we are just not going in the right direction as a country. and that's really ultimately what this is about. >> gas prices are on the downward trend after seeing them spike earlier this year. also when we talk about the unemployment rate if that continues to tick down and get below 8%, the faster we steam toward november, how does mitt romney and the campaign itself combat the message that the the economy is failing. no one wants to cheer on the economy not doing well and to see americans out of work. how does the republican side of things walk a really fine line to not look like they're wanting the american economy to fail.
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>> of course not. any movement creating jobs is great for our country and we're going to talk about that. unfortunately, the situation that we are in is that. >> participation rate in our workforce is lower, is the lowest it's been in decades and that is the unfortunate reality. that the unemployment number doesn't really reflect. what really is happening in this country. we have a real problem and we need to make sure that people in the country understand that and understand that there's an alternative in governor romney, who is, who has obviously a very great background in creating jobs. and in turning companies around. and that's something we'll be talking about for the next five and a half months. >> a programming note. we'll have chance to speak with the dnc's press secretary, coming up in our next hour,
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kirsten, thanks again. for the first time in 34 years, we could have a triple crown winner. it was down to the line in the preakness when i'll have another one pulled off one of the most dramatic wins in history. take lack at this super-exciting photo finish. >> and they're into the stretch. and it's boney meister coming to the eighth pole. i'll have another, makes his move on the outside, with one furlong to run. bode y meister in front, i'll he another is bearing down on him. it's boney meister and i'll have another. in a dramatic preakness, and i'll have another get there? here he comes, here'sed wire, i'll have another did it! >> the announcer is about to have a stroke it sounds like this was very exciting, though. the belmont, which is the final leg of the triple crown, is going to be run on june 9th. we could have a triple crown winner right there. wake up!
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welcome back, to "weekends with alex witt." i'm thomas roberts. right now protesting are heading to chicago's grant park, they'll gather before marching two miles to the site of the nato summit. meanwhile, police and protesters are preparing for more of this. take a look. intense clashes in the streets. police have made 18 arrests so far this weekend. nbc's kevin tibbles is in grant park. kevin, set the scene. when are these guys going to start on the move? >> reporter: well thomas this is supposed to be the biggest demonstration of the nato weekend here in chicago. the building, mccormick place where the big meetings are taking place, is about two miles over my shoulder here in that direction. this rally is supposed to be getting under way in about a half hour's time. and they're expecting tens of thousands of people from all myriad of causes to come here and voice at least their concerns and their opposition to the nato meetings and nato
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itself. reverend jesse jackson, for example is one of the speakers here, once that wraps up it's going it take about two hours to go through the more than 20 speakers that are going to be here. then they are going to be marching down the lakeshore here in chicago to the meeting place at mccormick place, obviously they're not going to be getting right to mccormick place. and the city of chicago has some 12,000 police officers working this weekend to insure that things go off peacefully here in chicago. i think it's actually the music is starting behind me right now there have been some 18 arrests as you mentioned. there was a little pushing and shoving last night on some of the streets as there was some rogue protests taking place. but so far, the mayor and police chief say that things are going off as planned. >> kevin tibbles, thank you so much. we'll have more on the latest developments from the summit at the top of the hour. now number three on our first five web stories, a surprise update from mark
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that fire and that's not leadership. >> mitt romney repudiated this particular issue, democrats and barack obama want the story out there. he wants this story to play out in the media. because for every day that david axelrod and this president don't have to talk about their broken promises when it comes to jobs, the debt and the deficit and the more time they can spend talking about hypotheticals that may or may not come true, is day they want to win on. >> joining us is former dnc communications director and wesley donohue, senior adviser on the michelle batchme bachman campaign. i want to start with you, karen. would this ad actually help out democrats by drumming up support? i mean basically like raince
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priebus is saying there, it's good for president obama. it gives them something to talk about, where they don't have to talk about maybe sol of the negatives about not having the unemployment rate below 8% yet. >> you know, here's the truth. the obama campaign and democrats welcome a conversation with mitt romney on the economy. because then we get to talk about mitt romney's real record when he was governor of massachusetts, job loss, the debt that he actually increased on massachusetts. i don't think people see this as this is a good thing for us. i think that what we recognize is that americans understand that this kind of gutter politics is not the kind of thing we want as part of our national discussion. and it will make them take pause and say wait a second, why would people who support mitt romney think they need to do something like that in order to bolster their campaign. rather than use the $10 million to focus on a conversation on the economy. >> wesley, is axelrod right on this? is romney playing boll sides of the issue, where he gets to repudiate the ad.
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but now it's out there. possibly on more channels than if they actually had seen space from the super pacs. >> i don't disagree with that premise. what i do disagree on is he intentionally is doing this, okay. this isn't something that the romney campaign coordinated this was simply a proposal. listen, i'm a consultant, karen probably does the same thing. we send proposals to candidates all the time. i would hate for them to see the whiteboard in my office with all the dumb ideas we come up with. think it has given mip mitt romney the opportunity for the ad to be out there and repudiate it. i don't think it was on purpose on his part. >> the dccc sent out a fundraising letter, calling it race-baiting. as wesley is pointing out, this was just an idea, it wasn't something that was embraced as the best idea. >> well, but remember, i mean it went through a process where there was an initial conversation and then it was
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approved as okay, let's see the idea fleshed out. so clearly there was some thought behind let's see what that idea would look like. we've got this $10 million to spend. i think as axelrod so well pointed out this morning, we know, and i think this is the story of this campaign, the millions and billions potentially of outside dollars, some from funders, we will never know their names, who will try to play in politics and try to have an impact on in election. absolutely it's fair game to raise, to say, hey, this is the kind of stuff we're going to be up against, that's why we need your help. i think it's absolutely fair game on both sides. >> so wesley, voters often claim to dislike the negative ads, we saw in the jop primary, a lot of them. do they work when it comes to the polls. the romney campaign not using an ad like this will they take a similar tack as we get closer to november and the numbers tighten up even more? >> no, i don't think so. there's a difference in issue negative ads, as karen was
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saying, the personal attacks, we're seeing in south carolina where i'm from, we saw it in the presidential primary. people are fine with the negative attacks on issues and records. what they don't want is this negative gutter politics. and another thing they're sick of, the democratic party always seeing things in terms of black and white, talking about race baiting. people are sick of that junk. >> i think you have to take some ownership in the fact that in this instance it was a group of republicans, fred davis in that memo, it was scathing about what he said about john mccain, an american hero how stupid he was to not have used this issue. so clearly there are some on your side who think this is a viable issue to use in the context of the campaign. >> i think jeremiah wright's an issue, not because he's a black man, but because he says stupid things. >> i think it's pretty clear that the strategy there was to insert race as a character issue and the comments of jeremiah wright as a character issue into this campaign. >> when we talk -- >> real quickly --
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>> go, wesley. >> listen, they're not trying to say he's a black man, they're trying to say he says unamerican things, look at the comments he said about 9/11, it has nothing to do about race, but the dnc always wans wants to turn it into a race-baiting issue. >> i want to get into this other thing about the bain ad and president obama's going about mitt romney's past. does it hurt his campaign's ability to fight off future negative attacks by going after bain now? >> does it hurt romney or obama? >> obama, president obama, and the fact that raince priebus wants to talk all about the economy and meanwhile the president wants to bring up the business in chief pillar that mitt romney is built on. >> absolutely not. here's the thing, it is mitt romney who in the context of the primary said i want to put forward my record at bain capital as a job creator. those are his words. he's the one who put it on the table and said, i want voters to examine my record, while i was at bain as a job creator. he's the one who said we created
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like hundreds of thousands of jobs. well actually you know it's like ten thousand jobs, now we're back to 100,000 jobs. if you're going to say let's look at my record and we then look at your record and kind of fill out the full story of what bain capital and what free market economies and what those kind of capital investments, the full story of what can happen when there's wins and loses and people lose their jobs and pensions, but the investors are still able it recoup all of their initial investment, that's a fair category for us to take a look at. >> bain was mainly about making money, not about making jobs, job growth may have been a by-product in certain areas of bain's investments, if we talk, wesley, about what happened in massachusetts, with governor romney and his time there, there were 47th in the country in job creation. is that going to be an achilles heel for him? >> no, i don't think so. i think cory booker, what he said this morning was absolutely right. i think the democrats attacking private equity and the free
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market is a bad move on their part. as far as massachusetts goes, you had a conservative governor who was working with a liberal lethbrid legislate stur. i think everybody knows the background and the liberal nature of massachusetts. >> wasn't it rick perry and also basically newt gingrich who brought up vulture capitalists and they made that fair game in the primary? >> sure, but they were both wrong. >> we're sort of in this interesting thing. so if we talk about mitt romney's record, when he said here are the things i want you to judge me on, like my record at bain, that's character assassination. but when you bring up the possibility of something like jeremiah wright, with clear racial overtones, i mean the language in that memo about metrosexual african-americans or african-americans with good diction or good language or what have you -- >> literate. >> there's a clear racial intention there. so somehow that's not a character asass nation? i'm not sure where the lines are. >> we've got to continue the conversation, i've got to bolt. thanks so much, i appreciate your time. we move on to our number two
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on our first five web stories, a storm watch for the next 24 hours, before hurricane season even starts. alberto is in the atlantic ocean with sustained winds of 50 miles per hour. it could bring strong winds and high surf to the east coast. the hurricane season does not officially start until june 1st. [ morgan ] when you cheer, they fly just a liiiiittle bit higher... [ man ] he hits it! [ morgan ] ...go just a liiiiittle bit further... [ woman ] a perfect 10! [ morgan ] they can even be perfect. and when we come together... to one... [ chuckles ] ...we know what happens. [ crowd cheering ] visa. proud sponsor of the olympic games for 25 years. join our global cheer.
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song, "she's a rainbow" and "ruby tuesday." >> who could hang a name on you. >> when you change with every day ♪ ♪ still i'm going to miss >> it was a good episode. during her seven years, wiig has played a range of characters this won't be the last we see of her, she has several films in development. congratulation does her. up next, a noted scholar on the historic move by the naacp to endorse marriage equality. that and more after this quick break. with the capital one cash rewards card you get a 50% annual bonus. and everyone likes 50% more cash -- well, except her. no! but, i'm about to change that. ♪ every little baby wants 50% more cash... ♪ phhht!
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♪ [ lauer ] this is our team. and unlike other countries, it's built by your donations, not government funding. and now, to support our athletes, you can donate a stitch in america's flag for the 2012 olympic games in london. help raise our flag, add your stitch at tomorrow, the naacp will make an historic announcement, the civil rights group is going to back an issue that has divided the black community for a long time. that is same-sex marriage. all but two members of the 64-person board voted to endorse marriage equality yesterday. this endorsement comes two weeks after president obama also made history by becoming the first sitting president to back
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same-sex marriage. joining me live is dr. james peterson, director of africaa studies at lehigh university. good to have you with me. obviously president obama's announcement of support for marriage equality was a large announcement in terms of casting inspiration and a leadership for people to see for others to rise up. is this the tipping point? and the leadership that the naacp was looking for in making its decision? >> i think so. there are a number of things to consider. this is a tipping point, first it's an opportunity to applaud the president's leadership on this issue. the repeal of don't ask don't tell. members of his administration, the vice president, then secretary of education, arne dunc duncan. and you see people like jay-z and p. diddy and all of these
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different black pastors, a good model for the way that leadership needs to work. so yes, the naacp needs to acknowledge that. and ben gellis is one of the youngest leaders of the naacp historically. he's of the right mind here as well. he seized the opportunity, he created a consensus in the organization and tomorrow we'll get their historic decision. all of this i think underscores the role thalt president has played in leading not just black americans, but americans to the right side of history. >> julian bond has been an long-time outspoken advocate of marriage equality to be a civil right for the lgbt community. it shows that 49% of americans do publicly support marriage equality. that's an increase that we saw from 2009, when only 41% approved of it. a different poll of african-americans shows that their support being at only 39%. do you think that the naacp's
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endorsement decision and their vote to say that this is a civil right, do you think that's going to sway the hearts and minds of african-americans who have long thought that through religious beliefs, this is something they need to stand against? >> i think it will be interesting to see. the president's decision already impacted the voters of north carolina. as you've seen their numbers go up in terms of approving marriage equality. we need to make a few things clear here. part of the reason why there's a lot more discussion around homophobia. historically in america it's been the african-american community that's been the moral compass of america. so people are questioning and challenging the extent to which we should function as a moral compass on this particular issue. notwithstanding the religious issues at stake. the bottom line is black folk like all other americans want to be on the right side of the issue when it comes to civil rights this doesn't change when it comes to sexual preference.
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even though folks may not agree with it in terms of their religious beliefs, they understand the importance of it as a civil right. >> when we talk about the religious aspect of it, the rechbd eugene rivers appeared on this program a week ago. >> my argument is that the analogizing of the homosexual marriage movement with the civil rights movement is a fell fallacious account. >> the dr. reverend rivers saying it doesn't add up to be part of the civil rights movement. just because the lbgp movement is not identical to that of the black struggle, does that make the discrimination surrounding it discounted? >> not at all. >> with all due respect to reverend rivers, an analogy
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works because it's predicated upon a leap of met aphorical faith. we're not going to agree with everybody's choices, especially around sexuality and sexual choice. there's interpretations of the bible that you can throw back and forth around this issue. the bottom line, this is a civil rights issue. people will look at this as a nonissue. that we should be granting rights to folk regardless of sexual prechbs and that every human being in our society has an option and the right to sort of enjoy this civil right which has to do with marriage and how you spend your own personal life. it's pretty simple. simply a civil right. i understand the religious arguments. but people are allowed to have their faith. just as they're allowed to choose who they want to spend their life with. >> now for a look at some of the day's numbers once. a new report says home
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hi, everybody, great to have you with me on a sunday, welcome to "weekends with alex witt." 1:00 in the east. right now an unfolding story in chicago, the nato summit is in full swing and protesters began gathering a little while ago. this to miss a foiled terror plot. two live reports for you. we want to start with nato, focusing on afghanistan. nbc's kristen welk certificate live for news chicago. give us the latest on the talks. obviously the big issue is going to be between president obama and afghan president, hamid karzai and how to move forward in afghanistan. >> absolutely. we're learning that president obama and afghan president karzai are just wrapping up their sideline discussion that took place here at nato. we're waiting to hear exactly what came out of that meeting. some of the topics we expected them to discuss, the upcoming elections in 2014 in afghanistan.
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ways to make sure those elections are free from corruption. and also, reconciliation with the taliban. the over-arching theme here is how to withdraw troops, american forces and its nato allies, by the end of 2014, something that the president and karzai will be discussing, as well as other leaders here. nato, one of the big questions is how to fund it. thomas, according to senior administration officials, it will cost about $4 billion every year, over the next ten years to fund the afghan security forces. the united states is prepared to shoulder about two-thirds of that burden. and they had secured some monetary commitments if you will prior to this summit. not all of the commitments they were hoping for. that certainly will be something they will discuss through the summit. it's a difficult climate for that especially given the crisis in europe right now. with the economy there. so that's really going to be at the top of this agenda, thomas, and we're waiting to hear what
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came out of president obama's meeting with afghan president, hamid karzai. we breaking news to tell you about. italy's prime minister, mario monti will be leaving the summit a day early. due to an earthquake that occurred in italy and due to a teenager who was killed in a bomb blast. that's of course two separate incidents there. so he returning to his country. and of course he's newly-elected. newly-elected leaders who who would have been part of the talks, so it's certainly a big development. >> as we talk about newly elected leaders, let's talk about the french president, frar choice hollande, who the president is meeting the first time around to learn about the interests of where france will be going under his leadership. one thing is the eurozone, and also the discussions that he ran and got elected for, saying he wants early troop withdrawals. how is that going to play out obviously being a disappointment to president obama if those troops leave early? >> absolutely.
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it's an important point. and president obama met for the very first time with hollande at the white house on friday, this is france's newly elected socialist president. what came out of the meeting, thomas, is that hollande said he with as going to keep his campaign promise to withdraw troops by the end of this year. of course, that is a disappointment to the white house and to other nato allies. however, hollande said he would help the troop withdrawal in other ways, potentially with monetary commitments, that's something that's going to have to be worked out over the next 48 horse. but certainly president obama was hoping to be able to convince him otherwise. but it turns out that that did not happen. the french will be pulling out by the end of this year. >> nbc's kristen welker. now we go to not very far from where kristen is, to chicago's grant park, where protesters are about to begin a two-mile march to the site of the nato summit. we want to go to nbc's kevin tibbles, standing by in grant park to explain the scene from there. kevin, they're about it start
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marching soon? >> reporter: well thomas, we're going to have about two hours of speakers here, including the reverend jesse jackson this thing is just getting under way and obviously the volume levels have gone way up in the past few minutes. it's supposed to be the largest protest demonstration of the nato summit here in chicago. tens of thousands of people are expected here. there have been a number of arrests, some 18 in the run-up to today's event. a number of people were arrested earlier in the week. accused of planning acts of terrorism, making molotov cocktails, a fourth separate person was also arrested for the same person yesterday. but the police and mayor emanuel here in chicago say they want to insure that everyone has the right and is allowed to carry through with their either act of protest or saying whatever opinion it is that they have. there are few minor scuffles with the police overnight on the streets of chicago. but here in grant park, which ironically is the same area where president barack obama did
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his acceptance speech almost four years ago, today it is teaming with people perhaps with a different purpose, from here. they want to march down towards mccormick place, where the meeting is taking place. let's see ha happens when they get there. obviously police are not going to let them get right up to the building. back to you, thomas. >> kevin tibbles in grant park. thanks very much. front-page politics and fresh reaction to the latest reverend wright controversy on the sunday talk show circuit. >> the issue is not reverend wright. the issue is the economy. the election is going to be about the economy. in getting americans back to work. and i think governor romney's prescriptions are much better. >> that's not what the election is about. the election is about three things, jobs, jobs, and jobs. this election is not about reverend wright. >> meanwhile, senator marco rubio, a republican from florida, spoke at a gop dinner last night in south carolina and took direct shots at the
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president. >> we have not seen such a divisive figure in modern american history as we have over the last three and a half years. today on issue after issue, cause after cause, the strategy that the white house and the party is employing is a destructive one. that pits americans against each other. rich versus poor. men versus women, never have we seen such an toward divide the american people and an effort to win the election as we have seen today. >> president obama will head to joplin, missouri tomorrow to head the commencement address at a local high school there. the president last visited joplin a year ago, days after a massive and deadly tornado hit. in other news, the board of the naacp, the nation's most prominent civil rights group, has passed a resolution on saturday endorsing same-sex marriage as a civil right. the resolution also opposes any efforts to quote codify discrimination or hatred into
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law. their formal announcement of the endorsement will be tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. joining me for more front-page politics, editor of the cq roll call daily briefing david hawkings and real clear politics, erin mcpike. i want to start with this. we're hearing new reaction from both sides, speaker of the house, john boehner and house democratic speaker, nancy pelosi. elaborating their thoughts on the latest reverend wright controversy. is the issue going to continue to attract attention until november? or do you think this is just something that we're going to see for a couple of weeks in may and it's going to go away as fast as it blew up? >> neither of the campaigns or their allies are going to focus on it. that does not mean that third party groups and certain media organizations who decide that they have something to look into, will not focus on it. if people find other new revelations about rechbd wright or his influence on the president, then yes, the press
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will continue to talk about it up through the election. >> both speaker boehner and congresswoman pelosi seem to disagree about what this election cycle is about. as we heard them giving interviews, that this is about the economy, not so much about reverend wright. what's your take, do you think this controversy is over now and while everybody is being asked questions about wright, they can now get on their digs, left and right, about what the economy and the jobs need to be in this country? >> i think erin is generally right that neither. it is in neither candidate's best interest to pursue this course. and i think that one of the reasons why this was sort of a one-day story after this, this super pac's consideration of making jeremiah wright an issue. why it was only a one-day story, they concluded this wasn't good politics. here's why -- because when you're running for the first time, defining yourself, or defining your opponent is what's important. but barack obama was already
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defined, to whatever extent he'sing did to be defined by jeremiah wright four years ago. he's not going to be more defined by it this time. this time the president is going to be judged and he's going to either be hired or fired based on his performance of the past four years. not on where he went to church ten years ago. >> right, he's got a presidential record now. as we look at what the biggest thing that people want to talk about, though, is where we stand jobwise. in this country. i want to go ahead and talk about the labor numbers. because the department released new unemployment numbers on all 50 states, the national unemployment rate is at 8.1%. 34 states are below that, 15 states in washington, d.c. are above that and washington state matches the 8.1 jobless rate. if we see the improvement continuing in some of the crucial swing states, how much of a tougher sell is it for mitt romney and his campaign, when it comes to the economy? because i had the rnc on a little while ago. i was asking them, it's such a
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fine line they run, trying to cheer on seeing the american economy fail in this election season. >> they are cognizant of that, as is mitt romney. and so what it does is force him to sharpen his message. which he did just this past week, when he went to iowa and gave a speech on the debt. and his own views for how to reduce it. so in other words, he might have to shift from simply talking about the unemployment rate to talking about other issues like debt and the deficit. >> david, your take on this? how does mitt romney and the rnc for that matter. and those trying to usher him into office, make it look as if they're not trying to root for the downfall of the current american economy? >> i think that they can't be seen as rooting either way. but they have to hope in their heart of hearts, that the september jobs numbers, we should just for a preview of coming attractions, the national jobless rate for october will be announced the friday before the election. but at that same time, will be having those state-by-state numbers for september.
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so the really important preelection numbers in my view are the state-by-state numbers, in september. and you're right, quietly privately he's got to hope romney does, that the jobless rate in the places that he needs to win, ohio, pennsylvania, florida, are not doing so well. but he can't be seen absolutely as rooting for this. he's just got to off-camera keep his fingers crossed. >> david hawkins, erin mcpike, great to see you. the terrorist responsible for the infamous jetliner bombing over lockerbie scotland has died. abdel baset al megrahi died of prostate cancer. this three years after he was released from prison on compassionate grounds. al megrahi used a radio-controlled bomb to blow up pan am flight 103 after it took off from london in december of 1988. i spoke with the brother of one bombing victim who called scotland's decision to release al megrahi an act of betrayal.
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>> he was released, that was the most angry i was in the 24-year saga. the act of compassion was when he got life in prison this man was convicted and responsible for blowing 259 people out of the air at 31,000 feet. my brother being one of them. and we do know from different types of investigations, that some of the passengers lived the entire 31,000 feet. that was unacceptable and still is today. >> a total of 270 people died when clipper 103 was blown out of the sky 24 years ago, including 11 people on the ground. later investigations showed that moammar gadhafi personally ordered the attack. office politics with dr. nancy snyderman and the advice that she gave president obama about health care reform is coming up. ♪
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tomorrow morning the jury in john edwards trial reconvenes. and a verdict could come any time after that for the former vice presidential candidate. he's facing up to 30 years in prison if found guilty of using campaign funds to hide his affair and child with mistress rielle hunter. my next guest has unique insight on what might await edwards himself, having spent four years in federal prison after one of the most high-profile federal corruption cases in u.s. history. joining me, jack abramoff, the hard truth about washington corruption from america's most notorious lobbyist. >> as ways saying or trying to say in my botched intro to you, you have you neck perspective into all of this and certainly
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hindsight being 20/20, i think you're going to give us some fascinating observations on how we've watched the edwards trial unfold. you had the same defense attorney as john edwards, i want to point out, abby lowell. what can you tell us about him and the tactics that you think aren happening from what we've seen from his defense of john edwards? >> well first of all, i had probably one of the most brilliant criminal defense lawyers in the country and certainly comes up with amazing insights and approaches and i think he's somebody who juries generally are very much sympathetic to. edwards, unfortunately, is not somebody that the jury is going to be very sympathetic to. so keeping it focused on whether or not it was a gift or a campaign contribution has been an important strategy. obviously the prosecution, with somebody like edwards, with that kind of reputation, wants very much to keep it focused on whether he's a rogue or not a rogue. obviously he is a rogue, unfortunately and, but i think abby has done a great job in terms of trying to keep it
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focused. we'll see if it works with the jury. >> jack in so many case, the cover-up is worse than the crime if found guilty on these charges, edwards is facing up to 30 years in prison. accused of misappropriating $900,000 in funds. you had to serve four years for charges involving funds more expansive, in the tens of millions of dollars. why do you think the sentencing process in all of this, and even the trial that we've seen unfold, with 14 days for the prosecution to put on its case, only three days of a defense has, is so different? >> well, i think first of all, the statutory amount of time that he could get is 30 years, but it's almost impossible that he would wind up with 30 years, there are sentencing guidelines, advisory guidelines that are available. even if he were found guilty i don't expect he would get anywhere near frankly even the amount of time i got. i think with the defense, abby
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lowell decided that the prosecution had not proven the essential elements of the case. that it was a campaign contribution and that he knew about it as it being illegal. i think he probably decided that rather than carry on, keep it focused on that and not enable his edwards' personality and his past and adultery and all of rest to come back into it. >> do you think after all the information we've had again, a reminder, the trial has not been televised, but we seem to know everything that's happening moment by moment inside the courtroom from the reporting that's taken place, in the interest of the witnesses that were going to could onto the stand, just do remind everybody. edwards did not testify, his oldest daughter, cate, did not testify. rielle hunter ultimately wasn't called to the stand. do you think when you heard about edwards being charged for this and the case that was being built against him -- do you think that the prosecution had what it needed to get the guilty verdict? >> it's obviously hard to ever
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know what they had. hearing what they brought forward, it does seem a little problematic for them. a lot of people felt this was a political case. obviously edwards is a democrat. i'm on the other side of the aisle. but we see political cases brought all the time. many of us believe that the case against tom delay in texas was very much a political case. and we see this happening. the prosecution tried to prove their case, we'll see if they did. but it seems to me, based on everything i heard, ranging from having the donors, the givers paying gift taxes on the gift that they made, it seems a very tough case for the prosecution to prove. we'll see if they did it or if in fact whether the reputation of edwards and his past behavior is going to bleed into how the jury views this. one would hope not. one would hope that in america, no matter what kind of person you are, you're going to be tried on not who you are, but what you did. but oftentimes that's not the case. >> jack abramoff, thanks for your time. we could have a triple crown
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winner for the first time in 34 years. i'll have another battled all the way from fourth place to first in the final stretch of the preakness in baltimore. it was one of the most dramatic finishes in history. take a look at this. >> it's bodemeister and i'll have another in a dramatic preakness. and can i have another get there? here he comes, here's the wire -- i'll have another did it! he ran down bodemeister to win the preakness of the triple crown will be on the line at belmont park. >> wow. he did it again! >> it's good stuff, right? coming up on june 9th, i'll have another will race in the belmont stakes for a chance to capture the triple crown. today, we stand against the tyranny of single mile credit cards. battle speech right? may i? [ horse neighs ] for too long, people have settled for single miles. with the capital one venture card, you'll earn double miles on every purchase, every day! [ visigoths cheer ]
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into american education. that's thousands of kids learning to love science. ♪ isn't that cool? and that's pretty cool. ♪ welcome back, everybody, president obama and president hamid karzai of afghanistan have finished up their meeting in chicago at the nato summit. let's take a listen to what they have to say post-meeting.
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>> during the trip to afghanistan we were able to finalize a strategic partnership agreement that reflects a future in which two sovereign nations, the united states and afghanistan, are operating as partners. to the benefit of our country's citizens, and also to the benefit of peace and security and stability in the region. and around the world. i want to thank president karzai for his cooperation and his delegation, his hard work in helping us to achieve this strategic partnership agreement. and the nato summit is going to be largely devoted to ratifying and reflecting the broad consensus that so many people, so many of our partners and isaf members have agreed to.
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one in which we are working with the afghans over the next several years to achieve a complete transition for afghan security. one in which we continue to provide support for the afghan national security forces, that have made excellent progress over the last several years. and painting a vision post 2014, in which we have ended our combat role. the afghan war as we understand it is over. but our commitment to friendship and partnership with afghanistan continues. and so, this strategic partnership agreement, this nato summit are all part and parcel of a shared vision that we have. in which afghanistan is able to transition from decades of war, to a transformational decade of
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peace and stability and development. and so i just want to express my appreciation for the hard work that president karzai has done. i think he recognizes the enormous sacrifices that have been made by the american people. and most profoundly by american troops. as well as the troops of our other coalition partners. we recognize the hardship that the afghan people have been through during these many, many years of war. both of us recognize that we still have a lot of work to do. and there will be great challenges ahead. the loss of life continues in afghanistan. there will be hard days ahead. but we're confident that we are on the right track and what this nato summit reflects is that the world is behind the strategy that we've laid out. now it's our task to implement it.
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effectively. and i believe that we can do so, in part because of the tremendous strength and resilience of the afghan people. i think they desperately want peace and security and development. and so long as they're reflecting that resilience and hope for a better future, they will have a friend in the united states of america. so president karzai, welcome. i'm confident this will be a productive nato summit. and i'm looking forward to continuing to work to implement the plans that we've laid out. >> great. thank you, mr. president. we have had a good meeting today. in which afghanistan reaffirmed its commitment to the transition process.
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and to the completion of it. in 2013. and the completion of withdrawal of partners in 2014. so that afghanistan is no longer a burden on the shoulder of our friends notice international community. >> on the shoulders of the united states and our other allies. afghanistan, indeed, mr. president as you very rightly put it, is looking forward to an end to this war. and a transformational decade in which afghanistan will be working further for institution-building and the development of sounder governance in the country and better economy, where afghans will be taking steady steps towards self-reliance and all
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aspects of life. that afghanistan will be collecting its own revenues. but in the meantime, that the world community in particular, the united states and our allies in nato and isaf will be with us. to make sure that we take steady an strong steps and are backed while we are making those steps towards 2024, when afghanistan will be largely defending itself and providing for itself. mr. president, the partnership that we signed a few weeks ago in kabul has turned a new page in our relations. and the new page is the page of two sovereign countries working together for the mutual
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interests of the community and in all other areas of consultation. mr. president, i'm bringing to you and to the people of the united states the gratitude of the afghan people for the support that your taxpayers' money has provided to afghanistan over the past decade. and for the difference it has made to the well-being of the afghan people to our education and health and the building of the afghanistan government. mr. president, afghanistan is fully aware of the task ahead. and of what afghanistan needs to do to reach the objectives that we all have. of the stable peaceful and self-reliant afghanistan. in the meantime, until then, thank you for your support. >> thank you, mr. president.
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thank you, guys. >> afghan president, hamid karzai meeting with reporters there, with president obama after their face-to-face meeting outside of the nato summit that is taking place in chicago over the weekend. but president obama talking about the confidence that they have, about the productivity of what's going to take place at nato. the most interesting things coming from president hamid karzai, saying that afghanistan has reaffirmed its commitment to the transition of the troops, the troop withdrawal coming up in 2014. saying that it does not want to be a burden to the united states any longer and wants the world community to watch it thrive. nbc's john yang joins me now live. he is outside the nato summit in mccormick place, as we've been listening to the president speak post meeting with president hamid karzai, it's interesting to see the relationship that these two men have developed, especially in what's coming down the line with the withdrawal and the transition coming in 2014. not far away from you, there are
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protesters that have organized in grant park that are going to be coming your way shortly. in a march they plan to do on nato. >> reporter: thomas, this is mccormick place behind me this is as close as the protesters will be able to come. the protesters are staging right now about two miles north of here in grant park. the very park where president obama declared victory election night for years ago. the speakers there are just beginning. the program just beginning. it's probably going to take about a couple of hours to work through all of those speakers and then they'll begin the march down here to mccormick place, there will be as this is as close as they're going to be allowed to come. there will be another program here and then veterans of the afghan war will toss medals over the fence. there's about, i don't know, you can't see it from here. about a 12-foot high barrier ringing mccormick center. and unscaleable barrier, officials say, the sorts of
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things that are, they're quite common in washington, around big events like this and around the country around big events like this they will go to the edge of the fence and in some sort of ceremony, toss their medals over the fence, as president obama and president karzai are talking about the end of the nato involvement in afghanistan. there are a number of leaders here who would like that involvement to come sooner. and that pressure on them is coming from the streets and the protesters here want to demonstrate that right to the meeting, thomas? >> john yang in chicago for us. john, we'll check back later and keep everybody posted about the movement of the protesters there in chicago. thanks again. >> all right, so you have you heard that the western united states and eastern asia will get to see a very rare solar spectacle. a ring of fire in the sky this afternoon and evening. the moon passes between the earth and the sun, casting a shadow on the planet, blocking everything except that, a
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blazing halo of light. scientists say the sun's damaging rays will still be powerful. so you need to use caution for those out there, the would-be viewers that want to catch this cool thing in the sky. [ donovan ] i hit a wall. and i thought "i can't do this, it's just too hard." then there was a moment. when i decided to find a way to keep going. go for olympic gold and go to college too.
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new today, democrats are playing offense on the reverend jeremiah wright attack ad with a fundraising push from the dccc highlighting the controversy. this morning, minority leader nancy pelosi endorsed the tactic, calling it fair game. joining me is melanie rossle, press secretary for the dnc, it's good to have you here. is it fair to capitalize on the prospect of an ad or the thought of a campaign that was never
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fully processed or aired? >> well, thanks so much for having me on, thomas. i think the key here is that the citizens united decision has opened the door to millions and millions of dollars to campaign on these types of character assassinations against the president. and we've got to fund-raise, to respond to that. david axelrod this morning on cnn said, our average donation is $55. we are running a totally grassroots campaign. we're up to two million donors to that campaign. we've got to be able to respond to those types of character assassination of the president. it's not about facts, his record, economy, jobs, this is about character assassination, funded by $10 million from one person and we need to be able to respond to those attacks. >> melanie, it's good to be on offense, do you guys open the door to being responsible for
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every democratic super pac and maybe a hare-brained idea that they have on something that gets leaked, and something that you have to speak to and try to defend. >> the president has said that the citizens united decision was bad. it's one that opens the door to these types of blind donation campaigns. funded by special interests and this case one person donating $10 million to fund a character assassination on the president. but he's also said that family and faith are off-limits. and he is not going to stand for that. mitt romney, on the other hand, missed an opportunity to strongly repudiate this attack. and his response was tepid at best. he came back and said he stood by what he said when he invoked jeremiah wright into the race in aen interview with sean hannity in february. this was a moral leadership test. mitt romney failed it. he did not do what john mccain
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did in 2008 and strongly repudiate these types of attacks in this campaign environment. the president, on the other hand, does strongly disagree with those kinds of attacks. and faith and family are certainly going to be off-limits. >> i would ask the question of the rnc press secretary earlier this morning. because of the limitless resources and what citizens united has done for the availability of super pacs to become so powerful in the political arena. does it make them more powerful and hurt the work of the dnc, hurt the work of the rnc? and what you're trying to accomplish? >> well, again, the president has said that the citizens united decision was bad, it's opened the door to these types of blind donations from special interests and individuals who can contribute unlimited amounts of money. and inject this type of negative information into the campaign. but we're going to be focused on
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jobs and focused on the president's record. and we're going to be focused on mitt romney's record, which i think is damaging enough. certainly he's made himself or the primary criteria, for his candidacy, his experience as a businessman. and that experience is damaging enough. when he's gone into these companies, loaded them up with debt, bankrupted them. laid people off. laid off hundreds and in some cases thousands of workers, but instead, claims he was a job creator, really what he was doing was creating wealth for his investors. that type of background information on who mitt romney is, and what his experience has been, you know, as massachusetts governor, he was 47th in job creation. that is going to be damaging enough. >> melanie, is the biggest thing for the president now to get the unemployment rate under 8%, what he promised? >> obviously, the president is working very hard on lowering the unemployment rate. it's already decreased an entire
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percentage point just from september of last year, from 9.1, to 8.1%. we've had consistent job growth over the last 26 months. we've, he's created 4.2 million jobs. we've seen the manufacturing sector increase over the last 33 months. it's the most expansion in the manufacturing sector that this country has seen since the late 1990s. so the president was fully committed to growing the economy, building an economy ha is built to last, out-innovating, out-educating, investing in pell grants, investing in infrastructure and transportation. the president is focused on moving the country forward. i think republicans want to take us back to the failed economic policies that got news the recession, that brought us to the point where we were bleeding jobs at 700,000 a month. we're not doing that any more. the economy is certainly growing. >> the dnc's melanie roussel,
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thanks for your time this morning. thanks so much for having me. in today's office politics, alex talks to nbc news chief medical editor, dr. nancy snyderman about how the sufficient raj movement played a role in her family history. but alex started by asking about the government's role in health care. take a look. >> this to me is an apolitical conversation. to me the government hans a responsibility do make sure that kids go to school with food in their tummies, and we have a good public educational system and we provide some basic health care for our citizenry. i believe as a tax-paying american citizen, that every person has the right to have the same health care as a representative or a senator. they work for us, we should have the same thing. now, i do not believe that everybody gets everything. because that's when we waste
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health care dollars. but there has to be a simpler system. i do believe we will eventually come to some kind of single-payer system. why shouldn't you ration your health care? do i think a 90-year-old should be encouraged to go in for a total body ct scan just to make sure there's nothing hidden? no, it's a waste of money because we'll all find something. do i think there should be enough money to pay pore a hip replacement for an active 65-year-old? yes. but more important, there should be enough money to pay for good pre-natal care and immunizations and spending our money wisely. >> where does the united states place with regard to industrialized, developed nations? doesn't pretty much everybody else have a nationalized health care system? >> yeah. no one is going to argue that the american health care system is fractured and sick and more of a sick care system than a health care system. i don't agree with everything
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that the president pushed through in his health care plan. i do agree with a lot of it. >> do you not agree as a citizen, or do you not agree as a physician? >> i don't agree as a citizen. but as a physician, i know that everyone is getting squeezed. and as a citizen, i worry that we aren't having the national conversations. for instance, a doctor should be reimbursed for an office visit it talk about how you want to die, and your plans for the end of your life. how that got turned into death panels and how the smart people in this country let that get ambushed, is beyond me. that was a totally hijacked conversation. and a real moment that we lost in this country. i was one of the people who urged the president that everybody should have to buy health care insurance. i believe if you have some chit in the game, you take different care of yourself.
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if you have to have auto insurance, why shouldn't you have health care insurance? when you can make $40,000 or $50,000 a year and pay your taxes and you can't afford health care? that is an unamerican as anything i know. >> a lot of where your drive may come from, we see evidence of a picture here in this office that you have. >> i have this fabulous picture of my grandmother sitting in a wagon, that my grandfather built. and my great-grandmother standing behind her and it says, votes for women, omaha, nebraska and they were suffragettes getting the vote out. i come from a long line of women who don't take orders very well. >> you're doing this interview barefoot, with your blue toe nails. a good color. >> yeah. i mean look, this is the real deal, see this shoe? it will never, it will never see
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a sidewalk. walk? i sit down cross my legs, put them on, take them off. this is a wonderful morning television shoe. it will never see a sidewalk. >> that's great. these are for walking. >> office politics, that was good stuff. next the big three, the birther battle again. this time, in arizona. wake up!
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welcome back. time for the big three. today's topics are moving on same-sex marriage, it's the economy and then going to extremes. reporter for real clear politics erin mcpike, columnist for bloomberg, are a mesh ponero and morris reed. morris, the big news is with the naacp passing the resolution over the weekend to endorse marriage equality being that of a civil right. what's your reaction to this and what do you make of the
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motivation? >> i think they want to protect everyone's right to live the way they want to live in society. we have an open society. i think there are some people that perhaps want to rally around the president as well. at the end of the day they are trying to show that everyone needs protection. everyone needs to live a healthy, productive life going forward. >> do you see it as political because they haven't made a statement like this prior to president obama's coming out basically for marriage equality in the interview with robin roberts? >> julian bond said one purpose of the vote was to suggest that there isn't as much discomfort among african-americans with same-sex marriage as a lot of people assumed. i think that's part of the political message. we'll see if that's the case and we're probably going to see it in maryland when black voters will have a big say as to whether that state gets same-sex marriage or not. >> it's a social issue the obama
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campaign hopes will invigorate the base. some say it distracts from the current economy. erin, i will talk to you about the labor department and the numbers for all 50 states. the big concern is the key states and swing states. north carolina, 9.4. nevada, 11.7%. florida, 8.7%. all above the national average of 8.1%. how tough do the numbers make it for the president in november for the swing states? >> the three you mentioned there higher than the national average. the president will have a tougher time trying to win over voters who have been hurt by the economy there. there are state where is the unemployment rate is lower than the national average like ohio and virginia. the president may have an easier time there. some governors can claim credit for the lower unemployment in
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those states. it depends how the messaging plays out. >> as we look at the key battleground states where unemployment is lower, colorado, we have 7.9. new mexico, 6 pvnt 9. virginia, 5.6. how effective can mitt romney's message on the economy be in those states where the unemployment rates are decent. under the national average but seeing economies thriving? >> it's potentially going to be very effective for governor romney. i think economic anxiety among americans goes well beyond the unemployment rate or what the unemployment rate in their area happens to be. there aren't many states in the country now where most people would tell you they are satisfied with the economy, with the direction of the economy. most americans still think we are in recession. i'm willing to bet you that in each of the states there is a lot more dissatisfaction than
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satisfaction system with the pressure of time running out, here we are six months before the general election and everybody on all sides steaming toward what will happen in november. here we have the controversy whether or not to go with the reverend wright attack ads. now we have the potential that president obama may not be able to appear on the ballot there because of the birth certificate. so arizona reengaging the birther movement. is that smart politics at this stage of the game? >> it's disgusting politics when you look at how african-americans traditionally got here to say he's not a citizen is just absolutely disgusting. we have no room for that in america. really at the end of the day this will come down to the economy. i said over the weekend at the end of the day the president needs to connect with people. we all know, the panel knows you can cut numbers any way you
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want. if you don't have a job or feel anxiety as my colleague mentioned that's what you care the most about. if you don't care about his birth certificate, gay rights, you care about can i live a productive life and will my children have a better life than i would? the president has to stay focused. >> thank you so much. that's going to do it for me today. thanks to all of you for sticking with me through the past couple of hours. i'm thomas roberts. i'll see you tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. eastern on msnbc. stay with us for headlines and breaking news throughout the afternoon. up next, "meet the press." [ male announcer ] the inspiring story
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of how a shipping giant can befriend a forest may seem like the stuff of fairy tales. but if you take away the faces on the trees... take away the pixie dust. take away the singing animals, and the storybook narrator... [ man ] you're left with more electric trucks. more recycled shipping materials... and a growing number of lower emissions planes... which still makes for a pretty enchanted tale. ♪ la la la [ man ] whoops, forgot one... [ male announcer ] sustainable solutions. fedex. solutions that matter. captions paid for by nbc-universal television [ male announcer ] sustainable solutions. this morning, the president on the world stage. hosting global leaders at two high-profile summits. and the agenda has as much to do with the u.s. economy as europe. also, the debt crisis back here at home. will we see a replay of last summer's debt ceiling debacle? a debate this morning over the hardest choices to be made this


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