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tv   Washington Week  PBS  June 8, 2012 8:00pm-8:30pm EDT

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gwen: you say you want change? look no further than wisconsin, presidential campaign fundraising, and the rise of secret wars, that's what we'll do, tonight on "washington week." >> tonight, we tell wisconsin, we tell our country and we tell people all across the globe that voters really do want leaders who stand up and make the tough decisions! gwen: wisconsin's republican governor turns aside a recall, rebuffing unions and democratic activists across the country. while barack obama and mitt romney -- raising a combined $140illion in a single month -- square off over who's to blame for the economy.
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>> i know this is an election year. that's not lost on me. [laughter] but at this make-or-break moment for america's middle class, we can't afford to have congress take five months off. >> there is something fundamentally wrong when there are over 23 million americans who are unemployed, underemployed, or have stopped looking for work, and yet the president tells us he's doing a great job. gwen: and a new book reveals how the president who came to office to end public wars, came to preside over secret ones. >> we have every responsibility to defend ourselves, and we are going to make very clear that we are prepared to take them on. gwen: but do drone attacks and covert cyber wars serve that purpose? and who's telling the secrets? covering the week, john
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dickerson of "slate magazine" and cbs news, jeanne cummings of bloomberg news, and david sanger of "the new york times." >> award winning reporting and analysis covering history as it happens. live from our nation's capitol, this is "washington week" with gwen ifill, produced in association with national journal. corporate funding for washington week is provided by: >> this rock has never stood still. since 1875, we've been there for our clients through good times and bad. when their needs changed, we were there to meet them. through the years, from insurance to investment management, from real estate to retirement solutions, we've developed new ideas for the finallenges ahead. this rock has never stood still. and that's one thing that will never change. prudential.
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>> this is the at&t network, a living, breathing intelligence bringing people together to bring new ideas to life. >> look, it's so simple. >> in here, the right minds from inside and outside the company come together to work on an idea. adding it to it from the road, improving it in the cloud, all in realtime. it's the at&t network, providing new ways to work together so business works better. corporate funding is also provided by: boeing, norfolk southern. additional funding is also provided by the annenberg foundation, the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. once again, live from washington, moderator gwen ifill. gwen: welcome to this week's roller coaster, or maybe it's
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not so welcome if you are a democrat. wisconsin republicans set the stage tuesday by fending off a vigorous attempt to recall embattled governor scott walker. both president obama and governor romney remained at arms' length from that battle, but, in victory, walker saw a lesson for both men. >> i think voters coming to the presidential election will want candidates to explain what they'll do, how they'll look out for the next generation more than just getting through this next election. that was clearly said in the election results yesterday. gwen: perhaps that's what we saw today as obama and romney engaged in long-distance battles over who is right about the economy. >> the private sector's doing fine. where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local vernment, oftentimes cuts initiated by, you know, governors or mayors
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who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government. >> for the president of the united states to stand up and say the private sector is doing fine is going to go down in history as an extraordinary miscalculation and misunderstanding by a president who is out of touch. gwen: it looks like both it's going to go down in history if mitt romney has anything to say about it. what was going on there? >> the president was making the case through the american jobs act, he's been fighting for it for a year and he was talking about the relative strength of the economy, saying the private sector has been growing, but in these jobs -- these cops, these they're the, hardest hit, and he has a plan to give aid to the states. what he was trying to make an argument for. the republicans grabbed it and said this shows he's clueless about the economy, he thinks people are doing fine. he doesn't think people are doing fine.
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he says that all the time. gwen: he came back and tuesday again in case anyone misunderstood. >> and he can't let it be the case for a minute that anybody thinks he doesn't know that people are hurting. what's the important argument that republicans have and that important, larger argument is, that government gets in the way of free enterprise and that the president's solution is a government-based solution. the president would say, well, it's a small one, it's investment, it's a smart use of the federal government. but that's the big argument here, not the petty one. that's the large one, and that's as big as this election itself and it goes beyond that. in europe, there's a debate about austerity measures, how much the government needs to cut back and how much it needs to invest. the president saying that europe is rumbling and don't blame me because of what's happening in europe and it happened in wisconsin. happened in wisconsin was a version of the same argument at a state level. >> what happened in wisconsin, it started as a debate many
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months ago about what you spend your money on and because of scarce resources, what you spend your money on in a time of big deficits and governor walker decided they wanted to have public sector unions participate more in pensions and healthcare than they had before so this started up a huge fight because the unions thought this is a direct shot at our benefits over the years and if walker's able to do did in wisconsin, it's going to happen all over the country, because there are lots of other republican governors who won in 2010, who want to do the same thing. gwen: a couple of democrats, too. >> that's true. all of the governors are as the president said, the governors and mayors are fighting to find a way to shrink deficits, deal with low tax revenues, and find a way to keep the governments running. >> john, if wisconsin was a microcosm of the argument we'll see play out over the general election, why was it that both president obama and governor stayed as far away from the state as they could possibly do? you almost see them routing the
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airplanes away from its borders. >> they did. the president was in neighboring states and couldn't get there. they also didn't run television ads in the state, as well, neither one of them. they didn't know how it was going to turn out and they didn't want to be on the hook into the state. remember when president obama campaigned against now senator scott brown. he went up there and made a last-minute pitch for his opponent and it didn't turn out so well, it became a referendum on the president. not a success, necessarily, for brown, in terms of the national political conveation. that was true about romney. if he made it about him, it was a local issue and don't get in the way of that for fear of it hurting you and backfiring, essentially. >> overall, what message does romney take out of this? >> well, there are two messages to try to parse out of this. one is about the battle map. the question for romney, if you look at the battleground states, there are about 11. the obama campaign, at the start of the campaign last year, had wisconsin in the deep blue state for obama category. they no longer have it there.
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the question for romney is, is he going to play in wisconsin? is he going to put the money and advertisements and spend time trying to compete for wisconsin what was seen in the walker success? but there's also an ideological question for him. walker won by being loud and proud, saying these are my conservative ideas, i'm going to be forth worth right about them and withstand the onslaught so have looked at this and paul ryan from the same state and said, that's how we have to govern. governor romney has run a risk averse, safe campaign. is he going to take the walker message, not just the message to turn away fr barack obama, but to the electorate, turn towards this specific set of conservative ideas. gwen: you can't underestimate what a blow it was to the labor union movement. >> they're defeated and sad and have to get their energy back up for the general election.
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>> but they didn't put that much money in when you think about how much they could have. >> there was a tension between the labor unions who wanted to work on this and the national committee. tensionart of the that's left over. you didn't come help us out, they say to the president and to the democratic national committee. gwen: let's talk more about this fall. it looks like both candidates will have plenty of cash on hand to sell their messages. the obama campaign, flush after a month of celebrity fundraising, announced they'd hauled in $60 million dollars in may, but the romney campaign bested that, raising $76.8 million during that same period -- more than it had raised during the entire primary campaign. is this what to expect at the kickoff of a general election campaign, jean, or is this one those things where the romney people are beating obama at their own game? >> we expected him to beat obama the first month out because romney was careful during the to only collect primary
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money so everybody who gave to him in the primary, you send them a note and say, send them the general election check, and they'll be most inclined to do so. so there's an expectation that's easy money, the low-hanging fruit. romney's number, though, carries a lot of messages, so there's a lot of strength in that number. and that is, if you look going further on the calendar in the primary race, let's say it's $88 million, because we're counting by months. so then we go to this month and it's $76 million. so it almost matches everything he raised and people now can send in a check that's not $2,500, but is $30,000 to $40,000. so there's a lot of growth in romney's fund-raising ranks to easily catch up and it also could prove to be significant -- we'll find out eventually -- but when they each release their
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press releases about how much money they had, romney added in his that he has around $100 million in the bank. barack obama had $115 million in the bank last month. this month, they didn't tell us. gwen: oh, bawng it's because they've been spending it? >> i have a feeling that number isn't going to be as good as it could have been. >> can they turn on a switch? we know the machine is going well for romney. can obama flip a switch? i know they sent out a press release, trying to use the romney news. gwen: the press release said, we got beat, please send us more money. >> can they kick the generator up a little more? >> they have been sort of like a battleship. you know, they've been really steady. raised a lot of money. but it's been in the $60 million range a couple of times. i mean, it almost looks to me like they've got this thing timed out so that they're not
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going to have, like, wild peaks, except, of course, in the end, when they hope the small donors re-engage at the level they did last cycle because that's really what pushed obama into the stratosphere in history in terms of raising money. >> jean, did what we see happen in wiscons tell us anything about what the general campaign will look like for voters in this super-charged super pac, super advertising era and what did it feel like in wisconsin and will that spread? gwen: we're talking $66 million? >> $66 million has been documented. in the end, they think it will be $80 million. what's interesting, we all talk about super pacs are going to swamp everybody. wisconsin, that didn't happen, or at least so far. the numbers will stretch some, the last three weeks aren't reported yet, but as of two
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weeks out, the super pacs for the republicans have spent $18 million and the democratic super pacs had spent $17 million. so they were competitive. so where the real imbalance was scott walker himself because they have this quirky law in wisconsin that says if you -- imagine this, written by incumbents -- if you're an incumbent and you face a recall, the campaign finance rules no longer apply to you. you can take as much money as you want. so that's why he could take a clip, where's barrett, the challenger, the rules did apply to him. so he was limited to $10,000 a donation. so, like i said, written by incumbents. >> incumbent protection. >> so the governor raised $30 million and barrett raised four. that's where the huge imbalance occurred and what people say there is that no matter what you say, there was enough money for
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both sides to get their messages out because the people say they would get half a dozen to a dozen direct mail things every single day, phone calls, one, often two, every night. there were bus tours. i mean, the place was a carnival and i talked to one expert out there and he said the idea that if the unions had just thrown in $2 million more dollars, they would have gotten more votes, nobody here didn't know there was an election. nobody here didn't know who was running. gwen: cycle back to the national campaign. we've been paying attention to the celebrity fund-raising. we saw mitt romney appear on stage with donald trump and his point was, donald trump can raise money for me and the president on a seemingly endless campaign trip to california, back to new york, sarah jessica parker, anna win tour, you name it, raising a lot of money. how much did that account for
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these numbers? >> we won't know for sure until the actual reports come out. the s.e.c. reports are due in the middle of the month. if you look at california up until now, it is the number one donor base for him. in addition, these celebrities are really important because they may well become his replacement for the businessman billionaires who are giving to the republicans. so you could easilyee, you know, sheldon aidleson, the casino giant, and jork -- george clooney matching him. when you see where are its priorities, the democratic super pac going to get its money? ou all likelihood, it's fromto m b cgwen: finally tonight, you may have been reading about it all week, tales of secret plots, cyber-warfare, and frayed relations with old allies, , all contained within the pages of david sanger's new book, "confront and conceal: obama's secret wars and surprising use of american power." because this is washington, the debate quickly turned to the
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"how" of the story. how did david learn all this stuff? >> it compromises our national security. for this reason, regardless of how politically useful these leaks may have been to the president, they have to stop. these leaks have to stop. >> the notion that my white house would purposefully release classified national security information is offensive. it's wrong, and you know, people, i think, need to have a better sense of how i approach this office and how the people around me here approach this office. gwen: david's book actually does providttere a beense of how the president approaches his office, precisely, how a man elected to end two public wars ended up launching extensive secret ones, was it out of
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necessity or inclination? david? >> i think it started out of necessity but i think the president quickly moved to revealing what his inclinations were and we really didn't know that when barack obama was elected because he came with so little foreign policy experience. i tell the story in "confront a meeting that took place between president bush and president-elect obama days before the inauguration and president bush said there are two programs you're going to want to save out here, one of them is drones, particularly over pakistan, and the second one is called olympic games, and it's what's described in the book, it's not the olympic games of london next month, but, instead, the code name for a very broad cyber war against started during the bush administration. the new president comes in, he looks at these and he doubles and then triples down on them. and then why? because i think he rightly
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sensed that after 11 years at war, the country was pretty tired of sending 100,000 troops and spending a trillion dollars and doing wars of occupation where the occupation turns into resentment. he needed some kind of high-tech, low-casualty way to try to accomplish the same mission, and in the iran case, he needed a way to keep the israelis from doing a military attack. >> what is, then, the obama doctrine, coming out of this evolution he had that started maybe with that first meeting with president bush? >> i think there are two to it.ing the first is, that for all the talk about engagement, the president has shown himself very willing to take unilateral action when he believes there's a direct threat to the united states -- the osama bin laden raid, certainly the drone strikes in pakistan over the objections of the pakistani government, including a big one this week that got the number
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two in al qaeda. number two in al qaeda is a risky job, carrying the cell phone around. it's not a good thing. the third is that in olympic games, he was willing to use an entirely new weapon of war that we really haven't discussed very much in the country, but all of these are cases of direct action. when there's just a global good, when he's worried about libya or syria or something, he is much more reticent, and says to the countries who have a direct interest, your direct interest is greater than mine, we're not going to be the policemen of the world. >> is tha a bark obama we didn't meet in the last election cycle or has he evolved as a president into who he is today, the way he is leading now? >> that's a great question. and requires crawling more into the president's head than i'm certainly capable of doing. but i certainly do believe he evolved because as he faced the decisions in afghanistan and that first year when he had to go do the search, i tell the
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story of how he does the surge but basically feels cornered by s generals and regrets putting in that surge almost as soon as he does it and then pulls out very quickly. i think he realized, that was the big commitment of troops he could do. he needed an alternative. gwen: the attorney general has decided to investigate the source of the leaks that he says led to some of the things in your book. what's your reaction to that? what's going to happen? >> i don't know what's going to play out in these. leak investigations are something we've seen a lot of in washington over the years. and certainly, you know, there's a lot of reason to be very about how you handle national security information. we try, at "the times," as all of you do, to be careful with it. that is to say, we think there are things to report but we also go out of our way to go to the government and say, if there's something here that will endanger lives, if there's going to endanger future operations,
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we need to discuss it so we don't put that in the paper. revealing book. you'll sign it for me? >> absolutely. gwen: thank you, everyone. we have to leave you a few minutes early because it's pledge week. we like to think of it as giving you the chance to support your local pbs station, which in turn supports us. but the conversation continues online, in the washington week webcast extra, where we'll pick up where we left off. that's at pbs.org/washingtonweek. and keep up with daily news developments with me online and on air over at the pbs newshour. and we'll see you again, next week, on washington week. good night. every thursday, get a preview of our topics and panel with our "washington week" email alert available at pbs.org. >> funding for "washington week" is provided by --
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