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tv   The Situation Room  CNN  January 7, 2014 2:00pm-3:31pm PST

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>> thank you for having us. i turn you over to wolf blitzer right next door in "the situation room." jake, thanks very much. we new details from a memoir from robert gates. did the president actually believe in his own strategy? or did they put troops at risk? john mccain unplugged. one of the fiercest critics of the president's war strategy joins us live in "the situation room." in a matter of minutes, the senator talks about robert gates, two u.s. wars, and his own view of the president's performance as commander in chief. extending unemployment benefits, the president picks his first fight of 2014. telling lawmakers to restore jobless benefits to more than a million americans. but will congress show him the money? i'm wolf blitzer, you're in "the situation room."
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we begin with blistering new allegations "new york times" and "the washington post" have published reports that a new memoir by robert gates, the sharp criticism over the handling of the an gan warrick is remarkable for someone who was known for quiet bipartisan ship while holding top jobs both at the cia and pentagon in three administrations. let's get to all of this with jim scuitto. pretty remarkable stuff. >> no question. you remember president obama spoke from the beginning about building a team of rivals, but these really unprecedented criticism. and gates level one of the harshest criticisms that one can make. the president sent forces into combat in afghanistan, believing the strategy would fail.
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-- he doesn't consider the war to be his. for him it's all about getting out. gates grew concerned about the president changing court. the president was, quote, skeptical if in and out outright convinced it will failed. gates also said, quote, he never doubted support for the troops, only support for the mission. the book is not set for release until january 14th, but late today both papers published detailed stories about the content. gates is especially hard on obama ace advisers, calling vice president joe biden, quote, a man of integrity, but arguing,
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quote, he's been wrong on nearly every foreign policy and national security issue for over the past four decades. and filled prime yaerld by former hill staffers, academics and political opportunities. now president obama himself is more he also went on to -- one of the most courageous decisions he has ever witnessed in the white house. >> jim scuitto, thanks very much. let's talk about someone who's been critical himself. republican senator johns mccain of arizona.
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senator, thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. all right, you've got the headlines, you've seen the articles in "the washington post" and "new york times," what's your instinctive immediate reaction to what you hear from robert gates? >> certainly one of the most respected men in washington, and not just one of these ordinary public servants, as i believe he served five presidents, so i think his words will have significant impact. frankly i'm alternates surprised, because a lot of times people are not quite as candid as it appears his book is. >> do you agree with him that i never doubted support for the troops in afghanistan, only support for their mission. do you agree with gates? >> oh, sure. look, did you ever hear the president talk about afghanistan without talking about that we were leaving? look what's happening?
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iraq, a place where we lost 95 killed and 600 wounded and fallujah is now black flags of al qaeda are flying. anybody who kell us it's malaki's fault that we don't have troops there is not telling you the truth. in afghanistan, obviously he hasn't spoken to karzai since last july. since last july was the last time he had a conversation with karzai. so we are now seeing a replay of iraq, and that's a complete withdrawal, and you may see the same result in afghanistan as we are seeing in iraq. >> well, are you saying you would like to send troops back into ra you can to deal with the al qaeda threat in fallujah? >> no. what i would like to see is us give the kind of support that is necessary with the logistics and intelligence. there's all kinds of ways that we can be of assistance to them with capabilities that they don't have, but of course not. american people would never stand for sending troops back
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into battle, but also before we did that, we would have to have malaki embark on a reconciliation with the sunni, because he has alienated the sunni. that's been one of the major factors in this whole reopening of anbar for al qaeda to take advantage of. so you would have to see a change in behavior on malaki's part before we extend this kind of assistance, but none of this would have happened, in my view, if we had left a contingent behind that would have been -- have influenced now the increasing iranian influence and also been helpful to guiden him on a different past than the one he took. >> you know what the president says. but nuri al malaki refused to grand those american soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen,
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immunity from iraqi prosecution. as a result, the u.s. had no choice but to pull out. >> you know, i might have given some credence to that if it hadn't been the fact that joe eastbounder man, lindsey graham and i were in iraq, we met with malaki, malaki said okay i will do it, how many troops? and they said -- we turned to the ambassador and general, and they said, well, we don't know the number of troops. pill called mr. donilon, and he said he couldn't tell us how many troops, and general dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said the number of troops we wanted to leave there cascaded down to 3,500. that would have been meaningless, so, of course malaki didn't want the deal, because it was meaningless. anyone who tells you differently from that is not telling you the truth, because i was there. >> let's get back to what gates
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is writing in his new book. he says this about the vice president joe biden. you worked with him in the senate for many years -- i think vice president biden has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over is the past four decades. are you that harsh on joe biden? >> i have the greatest affection for joe biden and respect. i've never had a discussion or argument with him that became personal. he's one of the finest men that i have known, but he has been wrong on a lot of these issues. there's very little doubt about that going back to desert storm. >> on almost every issue over four decades? >> i don't know. i can't recount them, but he has been wrong on a number of occasions, and was one of the factors in the whole removal of all of our troops from iraq and i have heard that his people are also not too unhappy if there's a zero option in afghanistan. i don't know if that's true or not.
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>> he's pretty harsh on the obama administration, robert gates, but he's pretty harsh on congress. i'll read you another quote, from an article he has in "wall street journal" that he's just released. congress is best viewed from a distance. the farther the better, because up close it is truly ugly. i saw most of congress as uncivil, incompetent at fulfilling their basic constitutional responsibilities such as timely appropriations, micromanagerial, parochial, hypothetical critical, eo 'tis cal, thing-skinned, and prone to put self and reelection before country. harsh words about the body you served in for so many years. >> well, maybe i say first i agree with a lot of what he said, but also the job that he had as secretary of defense is probably the most frustrating that anybody can have. that's where a lot of the parochialism comes in, and a lot
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of the frustration he feels comes in. i certainly don't think -- i think those words are too harsh. he expressed many of those frustrations to me and others when he was secretary of defense. whether hi thinks all those things or not, i still have the highest regard for secretary gates. >> one final note, you were on jay leno's show. i'll play a clip about your own future, and then i want you to elaborate. here's what you want. >> how about the election? will you run for reelection? >> i am looking at it very seriously. >> >> he told me he was going to do it. he said he was going to do it. >> there's a lot going on, and so i'm very happy to have the chance. >> sounds like you're going to run for reelection, right? >> i'm seriously thinking about it, wolf. i have another year before i have to make the decision, but i'm certainly -- despite what
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mr. gates said, i still think i have a lot to contribute, and i still think this institution is a magnificent place to work, and i'm honored to have served here. >> i assume you'll by visiting us for a long time to come. >> absolutely. and i think you'll be in "the situation room" for a long time to come, because you're as old as i am. >> we'll have a good time together in "the situation room." senator, thanks very much for joining us. >> thanks, wolf. up next, tax the rich for pre-k education? new york city ease new mayor bill de blasio gets into his first battle with fellow democrat governor andrew cuomo. and a leading publication says it's time to get sense i cal. i can't believe your mom has a mom cave! today i have new campbell's chunky spicy chicken quesadilla soup. she gives me chunky before every game. i'm very souperstitious. haha, that's a good one! haha!
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battle over early childhood education is pitting the new mayor against governor cuomo. they're decided over how to pay for it. deborah feyerick is joining us from new york with more. what's going on, deb? >> reporter: wolf, it's always about the money, and apparently how to make good on individual campaign pledges that seem to at base contradict one another. new york's two dominant alpha males, two democrats, yet each on opposite sides of a key issue -- to tax or not to tax. andrew cuomo, who's running for reelection says no to raising taxes.
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>> reporter: while new york city's proceeding everybody mayor says yesterday, yes, but only on the rich. the average cost? >> $973 a year. that's less than there 3 a day, about the cost of a small soy latte at your local starbucks. think about it a five-year tax on the wealthiest among us with every dollar dedicated to prooismt-k and afterschool. >> reporter: they both held near concurrent press conferences 150 miles apart. asked straight out whether there's a battle brewing, the mayor was emphatic. >> reporter: is this a beginning of a face-off? >> he has a vision for state taxes and i respect that. we're talking about the ability of the people in new york city to tax ourselves.
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>> reporter: mayor is asking the state for permission to tax rich new yorkers. >> the problem is it's an election year, the governor is running for election, the local legislature, and no one passes a tax in an even electric year. >> reporter: the governor is expected at the state of the state to proposed funding pre-k out of existing general budget. >> i'm talking about the ability of the city of new york city to tax its own citizens for revenue, so i think it's apples and oranges. >> there's a deep division between these two democrats. if bill de blasio can't get the legislature to great, he's going to have to look elsewhere for that cash. >> de blasio was one of cuomo's top deputies. the men consider themselves both friends and allies, so while the two are expected to have a much more positive working
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relationship, reply cap insiders say be warned, the rah-rah receipt ricket shouldn't -- >> we'll see how this relationship unfolds in the years to come. deb feyerick, thank you. coming up, a powerful network revealed. cothe koch brothers are reshaping the landscape. and a tuning turnaround on marijuana. we have new poll numbers showing a rather dramatic change in the way people think about pot. [ male announcer ] the new new york is open.
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there have been some stunning revelations this week about the bankrolling of a vast network of conservative groups by a pair of billionaire problems. cnn's tom foreman has been looking into the story. what are you seeing? >> this is about big money, big political clout and what seems to be a shadowy world in the wake of a big supreme court decision. >> i see you signed up for obama care. to protect gun rights, to try to stop barack obama as reelection and much more. >> i promise the change will come. >> i think i have a right to speak out. >> reporter: a new analysis of political spending by billionaire koch brrs and their allies has been unveiled. this is just a maze of connections. >> it really is. >> rob mcgwire says it paints a
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picture of interconnected group pushing a conservative agenta. >> it's an enormous maze of nonprofit organizations using subsidiaries to grant money to each other and shuffle money around. it's very hard to track. >> reporter: it's all legal. four years ago the supreme court in the citizens united case ruled such spending by corporations, individuals and groups is free speech and can't be restricted, but this byzantine world almost makes it impossible to find who 'peacing for what political fights. >> we know that they supported sort of the creation of this network, but it's not known how much they're funding. >> reporter: in a written statement, the koch brothers said they and their associates have reasons to be cagey, because they say the obama administration and its allies have targeted organizations with which they disagree, to stifle free speech and harass and
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intimidate the individuals and groups. what's more, their supporters say democratic leaning labor unions race and spend hundreds of millions, too, and other billionaires like michael bloom better play the same game. and 5 million to push for greater gun laws. conservatives say it all adds up. >> what we have seen over the last few years is see the right counter that. in order to compete on the electoral battlefield. >> reporter: so this is just a glimpse into the new political landscape here in washington, this web of connections and money moves in so many ways, that peep can't keep track of it, where it's coming from, where it's going to. that's one of the reasons the i.r.s. is trying to come of
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better way toss keep track of it. for right now it is an open season on this money flowing into the political system from all sorts of places, and as they say money talks, certainly in politics. thank you, tom. let's discuss this and a little more with other chief analyst gloria borgeers, and larry sabato, from the university of virginia, also the author of "the kennedy half surgery." g -- century." the it was an early prediction, mean not only retain the majority in the house, but also take over the majority in the senate. how realistic is this? >> well, it's early january, wolf. early bets sometimes don't pan out, so i would encourage using anybody using my piece to bet to use small amounts.
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on the whole, i think the odds, given the history and current circumstances, the president's popularity, the actual playing feel, you would bet that not only democrats could not take over the house, about republicans would probably add a few seats to their majority in the house. currently i think republicans are likely to add three or four seats in the senate. they need six which i means they only need a small wave to put that off. they need six seeds to take over. that's the average area. >> but starting out, these are the odds. >> you know, one thing ra mesh, that larry writes is the republicans who win all of this despite all of themselves. he suggests how each would be that another todd akins, for example, could get the
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nomination in a senate with a tea party activist who turns off more general election voters. >> of course they should be worried, and i think they should be mindful not only of the danger of people from the tea party faction, but people from other factions of the party. >> and there are many factions. >> for example, in nevada or maryland, they had candidates not very attractive, even though there were more establishment -- >> but there were also -- in places like wisconsin, montana, indeed in the in 2012, and they all lost. the problem isn't one faction. the whole party has to reassess. >> i think we're sort of seeing that right now. there is a recalculation. you see a lot of republicans who watch to run on a national ticket talking about poverty, talking about helping people to rise through the ranks of the middle class. it's very clear that national republican candidates understand
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that something has to change, because the last election, people didn't believe that republicans cared by them, they didn't believe that republicans understood their problems. in that's going to do occur, maybe they can get unemployment insurance extended for a few months and do a part of immigration reform that would appeal to a broader base. >> let me read a quote from robert gates' new book. this is from a copy that "the washington post" obtained -- hillary clinton told that her opposition had been political, because she was facing him in the iowa primary. the president conceded vaguely that opposition to the iraq surge had been political. to heart the two of them maze these admission in front of me was surprising as well as dismaying. >> i'm surprised he was surprised.
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i'm not surprised he was dismayed, but for those of white house cover politics and sort of understood the dynamics understood that hillary clinton had voted for the war in iraq, she was facing obama who had been against the war, appealing to the democratic base, so, you know she had to be against the surge. but i think he was dismayed as anyone would be when you lift the veil and say, okay, look, these decisions in the heat of a political campaign are political, and he's a military man. >> larry, you're a scholar, you're in a university, are you surprised that a former defense second tear is so candid, so blunt in a memoir involving a sitting president of the united states? >> well, in the old days, this would have been unthinkable, wolf. but i assume it's in the publishing contract.
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and this is important. whether it's appropriate or not i will leave to others to debate. i definitely agree with gloria, i was amazed looking at the quotations from the excerpts. i can't imagine that anyone who knows politics would be at all shocked that a couple of presidential candidates let political considerations come into play during the presidential campaign. who has ever heard of such a thing? >> shocking indeed. let me move on to marijuana. ra mesh, your publication has a surprising editorial called "sensible on week." it's a catalog of unprofitable tradeoffs. in a fruitless attempt to control a mostly benign drug. walk us through the thinking. basically you're saying, you know what? legalize pot.
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>> "the national review" has long held that position, and the country seems to have come around to our way of thinking. we aren't really for legalizing marine, but on a conservative ground, that you're not going to have a successful drug-free country. and meanwhile, we have in policy that's imposing pretty significant costs. >> look at this. going back to 73, back in '73 -- look at how it's now 55%. think marijuana use should be legal. the country has changed. i look at that poll and think of the way that attitudes towards same-sex have changed. the support for same-sex in the
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past five years has almost doubled. it's nots number one on anyone's political agenda. however, i will say everybody will be looking at colorado, won't you? to be seeing how that worked? >> state by state. when will it be legal? not just in colorado or washington state, but nationally? >> well, i'll be dead, i'm in my 60s, but i think it's inevitable. ten years ago, i realized from the views of my students that same-sex marriage was inevitable. well, look at your poll
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breakdown on marijuana. it's going to happen. >> we'll see how long it takes, if it takes. thanks very much for the discussion. up next chris christie's gambles. details of what at the did today. and plus cnn's exclusive roller coaster interview with dennis rodman. listen to what he has to say about the country's leader kim jong-un. >> why north korea? why? i love my friend. i love my friend. this is my friend.
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backed by latino leaders, new jersey governor chris christie signed the state's dream act, granting in-state tuition rates to undocumented immigrants. he said it sends a message. >> unlike what happens in washington, the government can actually work for you. that agreements can be reached, and that commitments could be kept. >> does it also show that he may be able to swing some hispanics away from democrats if he runs for the without in 2016. >> peter, you were there at the signing event today. what did it say to you about the potential run for the presidential nomination?
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>> well, talking specifically what it says to me is in the' example of him putting both feet firmly on the estate side. look at the names of people who might run for president. they croft different lines, but a lot of them lean more toward the right. i think he's taking a bet that he's a candidate who with win in a general, primary be damned. he's going to -- off some people, but to win these primaries, you only need 25%, 30%, 20% in these states. remember, john mccain, champion of comprehensive i want grax reform ended up being the
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republican nominee for president. he -- so you can win the republican nomination, even while signs pieces of legislate that may wrankle the republican base, wolf. >> so it's theb ginning of a stump speech? >> i think it's part of it. sake i'm a different kind of republican. i'm willing to be a pragmatic conservative. he just got 51% of that's a great thing. it's not fair in some some ways, however, it's still better than -- so here's the thing. it guarantees you if he runs, as peter just noted, mccain's support was -- in 2012, we saw this again, mitt romney so trying to get to the right, he moved a famous line, they'll
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self-deport, which hurt him. here's christy say i think we can win this, and it guarantees that it will be a dividing line, a flash point in the primaries. >> certainly does. thanks very much. guys, appreciate it. this news, by the way, just coming in. a u.s. air force helicopter has crashed in the united kingdom. local police say four people are believed to be dead. the pentagon does not yet have the official status of those on board. we're going to get more information and will provide it as it comes in. other stories we're monitoring, the russian research ship stranded, is free and heading for open waters, according to its captains. they were safely rescued from the search by helicopter last week. another icebreaker which got stuck during a reg could you attempt is also now free. the government has announced a settlement with j.p. morgan
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chase over business dealings linked to the convicted pondi scheme mastermind bernie madoff. j.p. morgan says it doesn't believe any employee knowingly assisted in the notorious scheme. the reigning olympic and world cup skiing champion lindsey vonn is pulling out of next month 'olympic games in sochi, announcing on her facebook recent knee troubles are too much to overcome in time. she underwent reconstructive surgery after hurting a right need nearly a year ago, and then aggravated the problem during a crash in november. just ahead, will house republicans follow the senate's lead vote to extend unemployment benefits for more than 1 million americans? i'll ask the head of the republicans national committee.
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there he is, reince priebus. and dennis rodman speaking exclusively to cnn, and unleashes a rant. >> no, no, no, no i'm just saying -- i don't give [ bleep ] what you think. i'm sending you -- look at them. look at them! welcome back. how is everything? there's nothing like being your own boss! and my customers are really liking your flat rate shipping. fedex one rate. really makes my life easier. maybe a promotion is in order. good news. i got a new title. and a raise? management couldn't make that happen. [ male announcer ] introducing fedex one rate. simple, flat rate shipping with the reliability of fedex. return on investment isn't the only return i'm looking forward to. and my parachute definitely isn't golden.
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all right. so it's the first big political fight of 2014, the battle over restoring some long-term jobless benefits to over a million americans. president obama made an emotional pitch for action. let's go to our senior white
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house correspondent brianna keilar. brianna? we feel wolf, the white house and congressional democrats think they have a winning here, and today president obama used the bully pulpit to make his case. president obama pressured congress to extend long-term unemployment benefits for 1.3 million americans. >> this is not an abstraction. these are not statistics. these are your neighbors, your friends, your family members. it could at some point be any of us. >> reporter: from the east room of the white house, obama rejected the republican argument that unemployment benefits take away motivation to work. >> i can't name a time where i met an american who would rather have an unemployment check than the pride of having a job. >> on this vote the yeas are -- >> reporter: six republicans joined 52 democrats and two independents.
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in the house, where republicans are in the majority, they are demanding the$.4 billion costs be paid for, offset with cuts to other government programs. democrats in the white house oppose offsets. republicans say it's all about politics in a midterm election year. >> i have to admit i'm alternates surprised after they ignored the issue all of last year. >> why not try to find that middle ground on a pay for middle ground as has been found before? >> on a relatively rare number of occasions, what i would say is that the ideological fight, if it were to be one, is around horse trading over what are essentially emergency benefits for families in need. >> i am unemployed. >> catherine hackett wrote to the president last month after she was laid off in july from her job as a nursing home
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administrator. >> i was blichbdsided. >> reporter: next month she is scheduled to shift to long-term unemployment. if congress fails to act, she will lose the weekly check that's keeping her afloat as she searches -- >> i'm spending $42 a week on food, which isn't a lot, but i'm also keeping my house at 58 degrees and wearing a hat and coat, just because oil is really expensive. i don't buy anything. >> and she told a very compelling story here today at the white house, wolf. we should also mention that for the first time harry reid, the top democrat in the senate is signaling he may be opened to a cost offset that house democrats are demanding. while reid says he is personally opposed to such an offset, if the republicans have a plan, he will take it to senate democrats for a look. >> chuck human ser signaled something along those lines earlier today. he didn't necessarily rule it
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out, brianna, thanks very much. let's get more now with the chairman reince priebus, who is joining us. thank you for coming in. >> happy new year, wolf. >> happy new year to you, too. what do you say to the 1.3 million americans without benefits if congress doesn't approve some sort of emergency legislation. what do you say to them? >> well, i mean, first of all, i feel for people that are out of work. obviously it's terrible, and i think this economy hasn't been good enough, and we're very sorry. i think what you're seeing, though, is an admission by the obama administration that their policies are making everything worse. what's really sad about all of this is the democrats in your piece, in the house, aret willing to come up with a way to
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pay for an extension of these benefits, which, by the way, they go on pretty far, but even if you were in favor of these emergency benefits being further extended, since when did it become wrong to say that in this country, we all to pay for things? >> got these emergency extensions and unemployment benefits through congress. he never paid for those extensions. >> and continuing -- and i'm not defending that, but continuing putting things in place, not addressing the root of the problem which is the fact that we need more people that have good paying jobs so that they can get off of the benefits is the root of the problem. but the fact that you would have to pay for these things first shouldn't be an issue. the fact that bush did it or clinton did it or anything before obama did it isn't an excuse to continue down this
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road of placing the burden of all of this on to our kids and grand kids. i mean, that is the issue. the issue is that president ought to give speeches in the mirror and talk to the person who put us in this place as president of the united states. more people are on food stamps and poor under this president and giving speeches to us about why things are so bad. >> there are positive indicators, as well, as far as economic growth and the stock market going from 7,000 when he took office to 16,000. >> people on wall street are doing better but the poorer are getting poorer and now he is jamming obamacare down their throats. >> very clearly on this point given the hardships that you are describing out there, wouldn't it be wise to simply pass this
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emergency extension quickly and just pass it and help the americans move on with their lives at least on a temporary basis? >> what would be wise is for the democrats to come to the table and once and for all decide to pay for these things and get serious about jobs and have a president that can lead and walk into a room and bring people together and maybe look at the 150 jobs bills that the republicans already passed. maybe harry reid ought to take them up in the senate. >> very quick. reading from the book. hillary told the president that her opposition to the surge in iraq had been political. when you hear robert gates say that what do you think?
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>> i think there will be an avalanche of information on hillary clinton and the things she has done over the years dating back to the governorship in arkansas and her role and many of the things that came out with the poor rollout of health care to gross negligence in benghazi, political decisions on the war. this is a very political person who makes decisions based on how the wind blows and this is the tip of the iceberg. >> do you think she will be the democratic presidential nominee? >> i'm not sure. with all of the scandal around her i'm not sure so bad for the republican party. >> when you say scandal, be specific. >> she wanders and scandal surrounds here. we talk about benghazi and the
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health care rollout in the early '90s. you name it. this is a person that is involved in scandal one time after the next. and so i think this is going to be a lot to talk about when it comes to hillary clinton. right now my job at the party is to put together a national operation to fix a digital divide, to get our primaries and debate calendarer under control and that is what i am doing. >> robert gates in the praise of hillary clinton calling her remarkable and supportive of the job she did as secretary of state. i assume based on everything i hear you guys saying and what you are putting out, affiliated republican party gearing up for hillary clinton to be the democratic nominee. >> i don't know who will be the nominee, wolf. you have a political person who makes political decisions her
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entire life. if she does decide to run she will answer for everyone of them. i just rattled off a few. i can guarantee you there is probably 50 that the commons director will show me as soon as i walk off the set. it doesn't end with hillary clinton. we'll see what happened. right now we are focused on the republican party and getting our national party in shape. >> how are you doing as far as new initiatives? you laid out last year in the after math of the defeat of romney, you had a group coming up with new ideas to attract younger people and to attract women and minorities. how is that working out so far? >> it is working out great, wolf. we are selling this plan across the country. you have seen we did very well last year in selling our plan. we have hundreds of people on payroll outside of the iron sea. we are african-american, asian
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communities throughout the country. you don't see it all the time because we are working hard on the ground. we didn't have a national party year round on the ground in every state across the country. that is what we are building at the rnc. we have a san mateo office and software engineers. we have top talent in the country fixing our digital and data divide. we are not going to have 23 debates. so these are the things that i most control. these are the things we have to fix as a national party. they are not the most exciting things to talk about but i can assure you when it comes to a structure and infrastructure that we need to build in this party we are doing it here at the republican national committee. >> so sorry about your green bay packers this weekend. >> had to bring it up. still hurting. >> i have been a buffalo bills
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fan my whole life so i can feel your pain. four super bowls in a row and lost four super bowls in a row. i can identify. at least you guys have won super bowls in green bay. >> we are still titled. >> thank you. at the top of the hour dennis rodman inside north korea and speaking exclusively to cnn. it's explosive. >> let me do this. i'm going to tell you one thing. people around the world, around the world do one thing. your guy behind the mic right now. the truck is everything. and when you put them in charge of making an unbeatable truck, good things happen. this is the ram 1500. the 2014 motor trend truck of the year. ♪
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happening now, north korea melt down. dennis rodman gets angry in an exclusive interview with cnn defending his friendship with kim jong-un and his new round of basketball diplomacy. >> i don't give a rat's what the hell you think. look at these guys. >> an in depth look at a controversial sports figure in a volatile country in a rare opportunity to go one-on-one with one of the most dangerous leaders in the world. what does it mean for kenneth bae? we want to welcome viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." it's wednesday in north korea and dennis rodman is about to
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give a birthday present to his, quote, friend kim jong-un. he and other nba veterans will play against the basketball team as a good gesture. but a c thrks n interview is raising more concerns about the visit and the relationship lead he had his own uncle executed. chris cuomo conducted the interview. >> this rodman trip, the game he will play in the coming hours and his interview is creating huge buzz in washington. there is real tension over this especially in the sense that rodman has access no one else has and officials have no control over him and worried
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about what he will do next. dennis rodman is deeply emotional when talking about kim jong-un. >> i love my friend. this is my friend. >> reporter: and explosive when asked if he will press the hosts on detained american kenneth bae. >> does anyone understand that? >> we do and we appreciate that and wish them well. >> i don't give a rat's ass what you think. look at these guys. >> don't use them as an excuse for the behavior. >> reporter: in an interview with cnn rodman complies bae did something wrong. >> i'm thought going to dignify that outburst with a response. >> reporter: rodman and ten nba
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members staging a game. >> rodman is a guy who doesn't want to be criticized. he hates it. i think anytime somebody confronts him on the aspect of north korea he responds emotional. >> reporter: u.s. officials roll their eyes when rodman's name comes up. a formerer u.s. envoy to north korea says u.s. officials may want to get details from him. >> i think they are saying this happened. if dennis rodman can get insight and bring it back that is fine. >> reporter: what intelligence could the former nba stars bring? >> could be asked about kim jong-un himself and asked about who seems to be kim jong-un's right-hand man. after all information is very clear in north krorea it is not
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good to be number two. >> reporter: analysts say for all the drama this rodman trip could move the needle a little bit on the intelligence if the players could give indication of who the key people are around kim jong-un, his emotional state and body language this might turn out to be a positive. >> let's bring in the nba commissioner david stern, also racha rachael nickels. commissioner, thanks for coming in. rachael, stand by for a moment. what is your thoughts? you have been the commissionerer for 30 years of the nba. you see others show up in north korea, what goes through your mind when you see this? >> the entire team is composed of former nba players. and for what i would guess is a relatively large sum of money they have agreed to go and give
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a birthday present to the leader. we did not sanction this. this is not part of us. we wouldn't do such a thing without collaborating with the u.s. state department. and i want to make the point that sports diplomacy is, i think, a terrific thing. we are in cooperation with or with with the blessing of the state department the nba has entertained the iranian national team, chinese national team. we are well aware of instances where sports diplomacy has been well used so this is not a problem. even i know chris cuomo is in the studio or standing by there was no mention made of the fact that there were probably 800,000 and 2 million koreas starved systematically by this country and has the fourth large army in the world and missiles and
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nuclear weapons. i think the debate little bit off kilter because dennis had a melt down. dennis will be dennis but i think there is a lot at stake here in terms of a country that has a very dangerous country. >> the nba is popular all over the world, not only in north america, but all over the world, asia, africa. rachael, i know you want to ask the commissioner a question. >> we saw charles smith sitting next to dennis. he has expressed regret today and said he didn't quite realize the ramifications of that group being there. dennis will be dennis. how do you think a group of former nba players, a number of guys ended up going over there and say they don't realize what they were doing or what they were getting themselves into? >> they were blinded pay day. i don't know what else to say or how directly to say it.
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that is all. charles should have known better but he didn't in this case. and i'm sure he is sorry for what he is doing. i understand all of the diplomats who come in and suggest that there is going to be some move ahead, move along intelligence that will be gotten by the body language or whose close to kim jong-un, but i think there have better ways to do that. we, actually, back in 2006 had preliminary through intermediate yare discussions with kim jong-un's father's administration. i think in 2008 the new york fiphilharmonic went. obviously cultural exchanges are not out of the question but should be done in a far more dignified fashion than this particular trip is.
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>> let me ask you a specific question on that, commissioner, because i was in north korea three years ago and i saw how they cherish the nba. they have a ball that was brout to give to kim jong-un's father. what would it take for the nba to send an official delegation to north korea and engage in positive basketball diplomacy? >> in conjunction with our government it wouldn't take very much. we have obviously have discussions on this subject. we know north and south korea marched in the olympics in 2000 and 2004 under a unified flag. we know what sports can do. they played the south korean
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national anthem when two finished first place in a particular weight class. >> rachael, go ahead. >> just athletes and political activism is always a hot topic. the nba had several players positively step into that arena over the decades. how do you recommend that your players and former players know where the line is for them and how to manage those situations? because they can have a great impact but they can also get themselves into trouble. >> our players and former players have for the most part been terrific on this subject. they know they have run for office. senator bradley is an icon. they worked on social responsibility with us. they have visited as far back as 1993 visited soon to be but not yet president mandela of south
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africa. our players have gone back to south africa for the last ten summers. so with our retired players -- so our players know all they have to do is check in, phone home and we work with them extensively. they have travelled all over the world. this one is a little bit -- and mostly for nothing. mostly to do good in the communities where they can be helpful. this one, i believe was blinded by a flash of north korean money and i'm worried for their sake they may get paid in counterfeit u.s. money because i understand that north korea used to be a leader in count erfeiting u.s. money. >> i assume they are watching in north korea so your words will be paid attention to for whatever they are worth, obviously. >> i'm willing to lead the delegation and i'm sure that
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secretary got the basketball from us as so many other diplomats have gotten materials as basketball has been used as an ice breaker. >> i am told michael jordan was asked before dennis rodman to go to north korea. he declined and dennis rodman became the former nba players to do all of this. >> wolf, who told you that and who asked them? >> i am told by sources close to the north koreans that michael jordan -- you can check with michael. dennis rodman was apparently the second choice. as we know this is his fourth trip to north korea right now. and i saw personally when i spent six days how much they do love nba basketball. obviously it is an impact and could have an impact for good if done properly. we have to go right now.
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>> you can't eat the basketball, wolf. you can't eat the basketball. they're the most malnourished country that we don't do business with. >> the commissioner of the nba wrapping up 30 years as the commissioner and done an outstanding job. thanks very much for coming into "the situation room." we'll have you back. rachael, as usual, thanks to you. and latest on the effort to release kenneth bae. i'll ask the former u.s. ambassador to south korea christopher hill. farmer: hello, i'm an idaho potato farmer. and our giant idaho potato truck is still missing. so my dog and i we're going to go find it. it's out there somewhere spreading the good word about idaho potatoes and raising money for meals on wheels.
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kenneth bae did? >> you tell me what did he do? >> you tell me. you tell me. why is he held captive? >> they haven't released any reasons. >> that's dennis rodman in an exclusive interview with chris cuomo talking about the american captive. rodman seems to suggestt that bae did something wrong before he was arrested in november of 2014 but didn't say what. we are joined by christopher hill, former assistant secretary of state for east asian and pacific affairs. how does a trip like dennis rodman and other former nba players impact serious diplomacy
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and negotiations with north korea. what is the impact if any? >> i would probably doubt there is much impact. you always look at these things whether they are going to be good, marginally helpful or unhelpful. i put this as marginally unhelpful category. if he could reel in bae that would be a good rebound. >> can anything positive come out -- you and i remember ping-pong diplomacy practiced between u.s. and china. can this basketball diplomacy improve relationship potentially? >> as david stern was saying a lot of good can come out of sports diplomacy. i have seen it personally and i have seen how the nba can play the role. i'm not sure this is an example of that. rodman has been on his own.
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there is a lot of buffoonery here. overall i think the problem is it turns it into a kind of dennis rodman reality program. what is really going on in that country, the reality for 23 million people is pretty awful. >> it is pretty amazing when you think about the approximaty that these players will have to kim jong-un, the leader of north korea, when they come back and let's say they are debriefed by your former colleagues at the state department will they have useful information? >> it is possible. sometimes people who have no idea what they are picking up can tell you something that is interesting. i certainly don't rule out that possibility, maybe not so much from dennis rodman based on the interview but maybe other people who are with him could have interesting thoughts and insights. >> why would they keep kenneth
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bae? what is the point? >> you know, they often grab these people in anticipation of somehow releasing them in the context of showing how reasonable good guys they are. it is not to be ruled out that he could be released as some kind of good will gesture. right now we are dealing with a leader there, kim 3.0 who just took his uncle, out of a meeting and had the guy shot. we are dealing with a very dangerous leader and very unpredictable leaderer. >> chris hill, thanks very much. >> thank you. just ahead cnn's chris cuomo on red hot response to this interview with dennis rodman. what he hopes will happen next.
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dennis rodman went ballistic with cnn's chris cuomo. listen to this. >> people around the world, around the world do one thing, you're the guy behind the mic right now. we are the guys doing one thing. we have to go back to healthcare and take the abuse. do you have to take the abuse that we are going to take? do you? let me know. guess what. one day, one day, this door is
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going to open because ten guys here, all of us. everybody here, we could just open the doors for people to come here. >> chris cuomo joining us now. what an amazing interview. what was your intent here? walk us through what was going through your mind as you were interviewing dennis rodman? >> wolf, certainly no anticipation of what happened in terms of rodman's outburst, somewhat inexplicable. the interest was the obvious, trying to figure out if this cultural basketball game, the way being pitched by carl smith and other ex-nba players could
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be used to help the situation with kenneth bae. because of dennis rodman's odd somewhat difficult to explain relevance with the ruler of north korea placed the politics to which you understand, as bizarre as it is i felt we had to take the opportunity to do the obvious which is to hope whatever attention rodman and the players get can somehow help the cause of the american being detained. >> kenneth bae, when he said did you know what this man has done? that flabb bergasted me and i'm sure you, as well. you tried to get an answer but he didn't give you an answer. >> i was trying to figure out what it is he thinks he knows because not to speak out of turn you certainly understand the situation there better than i do. there was nothing in my preparation for this that revealed any hard reporting or proof of anything that kenneth
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bae had admitted to certainly or even been accused of. >> i know social media lit up right after that interview. what kind of reaction have you been getting? >> social media is something that i haven't really figured out how to value and measure yet in terms of response. it is all over the place because of dennis rodman being such a lightning rod. some things i utthought were interesting. one, we did achieve success. the attention of dennis rodman has focused people on kenneth bae and focused attention on what is the u.s. state department doing about this. i saw you had the former ambassador on before. we have been pressing consistently and constantly. and this gives us a new effort to do that to give the bae family attention and certainly there are many families like theirs with people held captive in different countries. so there was good attention to that.
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there was also an odd reflexive reaction to defend dennis rodman where because of his seeming inability to control himself that he shouldn't be held to the standard of being a diplomat. certainly i wasn't doing that. my intention was not to get in a fight with dennis rodman. this was a regrettable part of the interview. people said he is not a dip lot matt. the problem is he is relevant. we have to try anything we can to make any kind of access into the situation because nothing else seems to be working. >> you did an excellent job. thanks so much for joining us. >> high praise from you. i appreciate the opportunity. >> that's it for me. thanks for watching. for our international viewers "cnn news room" is next. "cross fire" starts right now.
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tonight on "crossfire" bombshell revelations from robert gates saying the president didn't believe in his own war strategy. on the left van jones. on the right newt gingrich in the crossfire. is president obama's foreign policy in shamabbleshambles? tonight on "crossfire." >> welcome to "crossfire." i'm newt gingrich. >> we have a pair of experts with different views on president obama's foreign policy. a political bombshell hit washington. the "new york times" and
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"washington post" shared part of gates' new book. from what we read gates' dumps on -- >> you know the pentagon is always getting attention. remember bob gates was always seen as a team player and someone who demanded loyalty from his own people, now shocking revelations about what he felt about the president. let me get to a couple of them for you. in the book mr. gates said the president regarding afghanistan doesn't believe in his own strategy and doesn't consider the war to be his. for him it is all about getting out. gates