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tv   Inside Politics  CNN  May 25, 2014 5:30am-6:01am PDT

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a few storms in texas and spotty showers in the plains. >> healthy mix. thank you very much, jennifer. >> absolutely. thank you for your service which sea on memorial day. inside politics with john king starts now. the veterans health scandal becomes a campaign year flash point. >> we've not just let them down. we've let them die. >> president obama promises action but democrats are losing confidence in a white house and a president they see as too slow to understand both policy and political headaches. >> i want to see what the results of these reports are, and there is going to be accountability. >> the establishment strikes back. crushing more tea party challenges and turning the focus to november. >> a vote for my opponent is a vote for obamacare and a president who sold it to us on a
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mountain of lies. >> democrats see a few chances to turn red states blue. >> nothing about this election will change who is in the white house, but we can change who is in washington, d.c. >> "inside politics," the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters now. welcome to ch min side politics." i'm john king. hope you're enjoying the memorial day weekend. with us, knee amal leka henderson, jonathan martin, peter hamby and politico's maggie haberman. the veterans health scandal is much more than just another broken 2008 promise. >> i revere our soldiers and want to make sure that they are being treated with honor and respect. >> fast forward six years and
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more than two dozen va facilities now suspected in covering up delays in getting veterans urgent care, sometimes with deadly consequences. >> we have to find out, first of all, what exactly happened. >> that wait-and-see statement at the white house might well be remembered as the breaking point. >> president obama, the most powerful man in the free world always seems to be the last to know about what's going on in his own administration. >> forget for a moment that republican outrage. more and more democrats in key 2014 races are calling for the president to get a spine, they say, and fire his veterans affairs secretary and what more and more democrats are saying privately is scathing, calling the president and his team detached, flat footed, even incompetent. maggie haberman, that's what strikes me, what democrats are saying privately in the wake of problems, they see a president that doesn't want to take action. some democrats saying this white house doesn't seem to have its
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hand on the lever. >> you've heard for a long time that at various points. this past week marked a change where you saw obama with that very tepid press conference, sort of it, sort of not in with shinseki. he had a meeting about foreign policy with senators who were expecting him to be there. he wasn't there. they filed out. one thought he thought it was the most bizarre meeting he had been in in quite a while. this adds up to somebody who doesn't seem that involved. this is problematic for democrats who can use individual instances to separate from their party. but the collective weight of this is problematic. >> since he's been in office, he's seemed temperamentally at odds with the impulses of washington. people want there to be a head, someone lop off a head. his default gear is that lawyerly demeanor. i want answers first, i'm not going to show you outrage. again, it might be the
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intellectually correct thing to do. in washington it's very tough to do. >> it depends on what type of situation you're talking about. the shinseki issue, the va scandal, really is emotional. it involves veterans, involves health, caring for people. >> if you are going to speak, if you're the commander in chief and been under pressure for days, and you finally do come out and speak, what your people are looking for is something that sounds decisive. eric shinseki is still the veterans affairs secretary, although if you listen to the president, he stands by his man, but only sort of. >> i want to see what the results of these reports are, and there is going to be accountability. i am going to make sure that there is accountability throughout the system after i get the full report. if he thinks he's led our veterans down, i'm sure he's not going to be interested in continuing to serve. >> you can make somebody walk the plank. you can take the plank away to
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make clear you stand by them. it seems right there that he sent eric shinseki out to stand halfway down the plank. >> shinseki so far has said he doesn't want to get anywhere near this plank. we are talking about this in terms of politics. i talked to several veterans who do want to see some action around this. they know it has to come from the top and it has to be swift. these are folks that have dealt with a lot of these problems for years and years and years. they want to see something, too. i think you're right. these are real people, real consequences, will focus on military on monday with memorial day. the optics of it not great for this white house. >> is there any part of this country that is seen as more politically sacred than wounded veterans, too? they are so politically important, they're important to our civic culture. politically they're very important for this reason. there used to be a time in this country when it was part of the mainstream to serve in the
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military. if you look at congress after world war ii, it was dominated by veterans. you now have a political class in this country not served in the u.s. military. i think that is important here because these politicians don't know about experiences like -- they're even more ginger when it comes to stuff. that's why you see democrats handling this thing the way they are. they gave obama a lot of latitude when it game to benghazi, other scandals. this is different because of the nature of what we're talking about. >> different because now you have a growing list of democrats. they're being asked about this in the campaign. they're standing next to the american legion and next to the vfw guy. charlie crist, alison grimes, michelle nunn, they're at the top of list of democrats that say, does the white house listen to that or does it say, as it often says, you call to the white house and they say you don't get this, the media is hyperventilating. democrats in congress, they're panicking. >> no. the answer is absolutely not.
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i spent last week in kentucky covering mitch mcconnell's race. this story penetrates everywhere. the va is a sprawling bureaucracy. it's not just hospitals. it's outpatient facilities, retirement homes. there are families involved. it's not just debts. there are many things in health care surgery ts, whatever, routine health care things. this affects everybody. it penetrates everywhere in this country. do a google news search for va hospitals now. you see stories in miami, portland, texas. this is everywhere. >> it will affect the president in the sense he's been trying to get his approval rating up. democrats are desperate for him to get his approval rating up. now he's at 43%. think if you walked into a hospital room and saw that on your chart. that's trouble. democrats go to the white house with complaints and they're told, we're on top of this, you don't get it. stop panicking. trust us. you mentioned the senate meeting. they called some senators down to explain the president's
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foreign policy with the expectation the commander in chief would show up. chief of staff was there, national security adviser was there. bob corcoran leaves the meeting saying one of the most bizarre i have attended. what about that parallel universe that you're all wrong, we're right? >> it goes back to what has been a primary criticism of this white house. that is that it is insular. it's sort of a truism that people don't make new friends when they move into the white house. it's certainly been that way with this president. you have had periods i think when the president will go out and talk to republicans and invite them to the white house. this particular incidence, it didn't work that way. we fueled this narrative -- >> is it the breaking point when the competence question stopped the bush administration, it was katrina, doubts about -- not just about whethe you supported the iraq war, but the management of the iraq war. in 2006 he tried to come back to social security. his own party wouldn't listen to
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him. he tried to come back to immigration, his own party wouldn't listen to them. forget the republicans, he lost them a long time ago. >> he faces an adjacent problem, hillary clinton. hillary clinton is who his party is looking toward, lawmakers are looking toward. they are looking toward what they see as the future. you saw that in this past week with what happened with the benghazi committee where you had people around hillary clinton pushing pell let's see to make sure there were democrats sitting on the committee. it was as though obama didn't exist, they were pushing ahead. i think he's in dangerous territory. >> 30 more months of the obama presidency. everybody sit tight. up next, what's missing? it's important when you look closely at the map of 2014 battlegrounds. first, in this week's installment of "politicians sometimes say the dardest thing," president obama updated
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on his wardrobe malfunction. >> the jacket i wore when i threw out the first pitch in the all-star game. i heard with the media attention, there was also interest in the jeans i wore that night. but michelle retired those jeans quite a while back. how did we do it last time?
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in delaware, a chance to win there, a blue state, but christine o'donnell, the tea party candidate wins the nomination, loses in november. that was off the table. fast forward to 2012, it happened in missouri, todd aiken beats the establishment candidate, says things i won't repeat, loses. in indiana, richard lugar loses to richard murdock, tea party candidate, who loses in november. so far this year, no tea party challengers have knocked off big name incumbents or establishment candidates. two win in kentucky. the establishment wins in oregon. the week before that we talked about an establishment win in north carolina. so so far, no surprises, no tea party challenges. peter hamby, the question is this. if the democrats were counting, and they were, on the
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republicans to lose a few races early on by nominating people from the extreme in these primaries, what's plan b for the democrats? >> this is what democrats say that won all this week. the winning establishment candidates co-opted the tea party brand, their policies and can run against them on those things. i will say this, though, republicans have been patting themselves on the back for putting up these electable candidates. they certainly are more electable than paul brown in canada. i know it's a troep of campaigns that candidates matter. look at some of these guys. david purdue in georgia, first time candidate, mitch mcconnell, deeply unpopular. monica web by, some skeltons surfaced. tom harkin in arkansas, not running a great campaign in arkansas. >> look, this applies to democrats, too. just because they had a good week doesn't mean they're automatically going to coast to victory. >> you're dead right.
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candidates do matter on both ends. maggie, the republicans look at it this way. we have 14 democratic health seats we're targeting. they haven't given any away this early. now democrats have to fight everywhere as opposed to saying got that one, got that one. take it off. >> democrats are very concerned about what they're facing. even though there are certain elements about the national mood that seem to be shifting, obama care might be a little less of a hurdle. we're not going to know on this one. i feel like it gets very under looked when there's the premium shift in the fall. that's the next thing coming on this. that's going to determine a lot of it. in the meantime, there is a bit of good news for them, but it is going to be a serious, serious battle. to peter's point, the candidate quality issue cuts both ways, for the incumbents and the challen challengers. >> i would just say, the candidates who are now nominated, they take their advice from the so-called adults of the republican party. they may make some sort of
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ill-advised statements at some point on the campaign trail. but they are going to have ads and a broader strategy that is directed by the high command in washington, d.c. that is going to be very cautious and professional. >> one of the issues democrats have, we talk about the high command and republicans listening to the adults in the room. unclear who the adult in the room is in terms of democrats. what is the broad national strategy or national messaging that democrats can have? at some point we're going to see a real every man and woman for themselves. >> that's exactly right, that president obama and harry reid will lake mark bag gich in. to the point of openly defying and criticizing him in every tv appearance, go for it. >> which is what alison grimes is doing. >> she's in the marquis race
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against mitch mcconnell of ten tuck ki. listen to her here. she doesn't like anybody in washington. >> it seems like no matter how many elections we have, nothing gets better in washington. it only gets worse. a lot of that is because of the people at the top in both political parties. and no matter who the president is, i won't answer to them. i'll only answer to you. >> she's running against a guy she calls senator gridlock. she said, mr. president, if i win, don't bother calling. she's also taking a shot at nancy pelosi and harry reid. smart, right? >> very smart. the right kind of ad for that state and that race. at the moment it matches where things are. the republican brand has a problem for 2016. the democratic brand has a problem right now. >> interesting, you mentioned the democrats -- we paid a lot of attention to this pennsylvania house primary, marjory margolis. she lost because she wasn't a
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good candidate. the day after the abortion rights advocates criticized the democrat that won. the democrats are criticizing their nominee. listen to john boehner here who says what conflict with the tea party. >> i thought the election went well. we're going to have good candidates on the ballot. i'm not going to enter into this distinction between the tea party and republicans because it's a distinction you're going to have a hard time finding. >> that statement is ludicrous. boehner wants to passism grags reform. tea party says no. boehner would prefer the debt ceiling go up without any drama, tea party says no. he wanted to strike a grand bargain with the president, maybe include some new revenues. factually that's crazy. the republicans -- >> democrats in some ways, that's a bit of a gift. they still want the tea party to
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kick around and label republicans as being captives of the tea party in some of these states. in that way it's good. >> do you know what happened in the minutes after the campaign was called for mitch mcconnell on tuesday night, everybody endorsed him. all the conservatives issued press releases. erick erickson cut him a check, put it online. they all rallied around them. if you talk to republicans, they think there's this sense in the party that they can smell 51 states. they see the majority and want to get it this time around. that really manifested itself tuesday night. there were no sore losers tuesday night. >> if you talk to grassroots conservatives, conservatives, electability is nothing primary voters talk about. you are starting to hear organically from grassroots folks that they do want to win. it might take cycle. >> next our reporters get you
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time to ask our great reporters to share something from their notebooks to get ahead of the curve in political news. nia-malika henderson. >> in texas a primary on tuesday, democrats are worried
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about keisha rogers battling for the democratic primary, a nod in the u.s. senate race there. she wants to see obama impeached, often seen with posters of obama with a hitler mustache. they are worried that she is really disrupting their attempts to really rebrand and rebuild the democratic party in texas. they don't think she'll win, but they're worried she might do well in that primary. >> that would be a different kind of democrat. we'll watch that race. long ago i covered the trial in boston. staying in the lone star state, a runoff, 91-year-old ralph hall from texas is locked in a run off. he didn't get 50% of the vote in the march primaries. other conservative groups have
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played there as well. because of his advanced able, it's not a pure ideological victory if the right was to win here, you can be sure given the recent record they will trumpet any victory they get. >> this is something flying a little under the radar. this friday night, chris christie is going to nashville, tennessee to speak at the tennessee republican party annual statesman's dinner, apparently selling tickets like hotcakes. this is important for a couple reasons. one, nashville is a huge republican donor hub outside texas and new york, a big money place because of not just country music, a big christian publishing industry, a lot of republican money there. too, this is christie's first trip to the south since winning re-election, laying groundwork for a presidential bid. it will be an interesting place for him to test his message. i'll be taking a look at that on friday. >> have you mentioned peter mentions meals a lot. >> hungry. >> not a bad thing on memorial day weekend. the race to watch on june 3rd is
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not only what happens in mississippi, it's going to be what happens in iowa. a very contested republican primary. both sides are going to come out of the gate blasting. you'll have democrats trying to define who they believe will and some of them hope will be the nominee on the republican side. you'll have republicans who are well aware that it is going to be difficult for braley, the democrat, to run against a woman. that is a very, very important contest to keep an eye on. >> peter mentioned the contest i want to close with a bit earlier. pete attic neurosurgeon monica wehby, she won despite stories of her stalking two former boyfriends after breaking up with them. the republicans blame this on democratic smear attacks. however, i am told that the national republican senatorial committee decided to send out communication gurus they're a tad worried that the attacks could work, but more worried that wehby won't be ready for a
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top-tier senate race. that's it for "inside politics," thanks for sharing your sunday morning, especially on this special weekend when we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice that allowed these feisty political debates. "state of the union" with candy crowley starts right now. young, disaffected and angry, a killing rampage in california. today a familiar heartbreaking tragedy and a singular mix of disbelief and grief. >> you don't think it will happen to your child until it does. >> we'll have the latest from isla vista with the sheriff leading the investigation. then d-day at the va. >> i want every veteran to know we're going to fibs everything that's wrong. >> we haven't just let them down, we let them die. >> who is we and what are they going to do about it?


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