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tv   Meet the Press  NBC  January 12, 2014 8:00am-9:01am PST

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from nbc news in washington, the world's longest-running television program, this is "meet the press" with david gregory. >> i am extraordinarily disappointed by this. but this is the exception. it is not the rule of what's happened over the last four years in this administration. >> what a week of politics. playing defense, new jersey governor chris christie right there responding to the bridge scandal rocking his administration, raising questions about the impact on a possible presidential run in 2016. good sunday morning. special program for you this sunday. two big stories to talk about, the nastiness of politics and the rough-and-tumble of government as well. the new jersey scandal and also the tell-all book by former defense secretary robert gates. our key issues, politics and
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punishment. is bridgegate as it's being called simply an example of the everyday retribution in the nasty world of government? or did governor chris christie set the tone and create the culture that led to the scandal? truth or betrayal? some tough questions in washington as well. robert gates' book is raising doubts about president obama and vice president biden's foreign policy leadership at a crucial time for the united states in the world. is the former defense secretary right in speaking out while they are still in power? and the toll of poverty. millions of women struggling with their dual roles as breadwinners and caregivers. my colleague maria shriver is here with her exclusive report on why so many women are on the economic brink. groundbreaking work that she's done. and what are the unique pressures that women face and some possible solutions. we'll get to that later in the program. first i'm here with our chief white house correspondent and political director chuck todd, "time" magazine's mark halperin, who wrote about the 2008 campaign and of course "double down," the 2012 campaign
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as well, writes about christie. democratic mayor of baltimore, stephanie rawlings-blake, is also here. she's the secretary of the democratic national committee as as well. and kim strassel, a columnist at "the wall street journal," and a member of their editorial board. so here is the latest on what we know this sunday morning about the bridge scandal. there's been no smoking gun. that's important. no smoking gun found yet. no e-mails or correspondence that link governor christie directly to the scandal. the documents released, however, do show knowledge of the closures by christie's closest aides. the motive for all of these lane closures, by the way, on the bridge remain a bit unclear. and investigations do continue both at the federal and the state levels. let me bring in everybody. chuck todd, the questions still on sunday morning. >> right. >> how much did chris christie know? >> well, or why didn't he know more? right? there is sort of like -- there really isn't a good answer for him either way because his defense right now is i'm a hands-off manager. i did a lot of delegation.
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well, then that raises the question of the culture. that actually becomes the bigger impact on him as a potential presidential leader, as you're testing him as a presidential candidate. >> right. >> so far you read all these e-mails. there clearly is not a direct connection to the governor. so in the near term this is a survivalable, quote, unquote, scandal as far as his governance of the state of new jersey is concerned. but everything that this raises, it does make you question what his -- whether he has the judgment, whether he's got the culture that he can bring in, leadership ability to be president of the united states. >> let's remind everybody, key e-mail, lot of players, lot of e-mails, this is the key one and it comes from his deputy chief of staff, governor christie's deputy chief of staff, to an official at the port authority. and it's cryptic in its nature. august 13th. "time for some traffic problems in fort lee." here's what's amazing, is that both parties know exactly what they're talking about and the
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response is immediate. but chris christie on thursday in this epic press conference, kim strassel, responds unequivocally. he says this. >> i had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning or its execution. and i am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here. >> better be telling the truth because when you come out and you are that definitive, if anything goes surface going forward that suggests that he does know, that is a game changer. look, i think to what chuck said, this is not -- this has to be put in perspective. this is not watergate. this is not even the irs targeting of last year. in fact, it's not even, if you think about this as a raw display of political power, it's not even this white house using the sequester and the shutdown to inconvenience millions of
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americans to make a political point. what this is is a teachable moment for governor christie, because going forward this is a level of scrutiny he's going to be getting from here on out. if he decides to continue running for the presidency. so he's going to have to up the level of staff that surround him and make sure that some of things that came out, these questions, is he a bully, does he have competent management, those are the things -- he can't afford to have another example of those happen. so he's going to have to r re-evaluate who he's got working for him. >> mayor, you are a mayor. you know as well as anybody that traffic matters a lot to people. when you start messing with it, it's more than just petty. it has a real impact on people's lives. what is this and what is it not at this point for governor christie? >> going to start by saying i'm loathe to criticize governor christie, who was so helpful to our president after sandy in the election. i'm loathe to criticize him, but when you set up --
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>> you just hurt him with republicans by praising him. >> well, when you set up this culture of callousness and when you have a history of telling people to go, you know, blank themselves and calling reporters idiots and things like that, you can't play it both ways. he set himself up as this gruff person that sort of, you know, plays by his own rules when it comes to being rough and tumble and the way that he treats people. so when you see the e-mail by one of his closest staff, it's hard to believe that someone after months and months of everybody else talking about it, that he doesn't know anything about it? he doesn't know because he didn't want to know. and at this level under this scrutiny that doesn't work anymore. >> he does say when this thing comes out, when the e-mails come out, he says, mark halperin, everybody's got an hour to tell me whether we were involved. what he doesn't say, by his own admission, is tell me everything at every level. i'm a former u.s. attorney. i want everything on this thing. before i go out there. >> that december press
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conference is in some ways more important than the press conference from last week because he was not only remarkly incurious at that time about what happened, he was dismissive of it. he tried telling reporters stop talking about it. >> can we play a tape from that press conference? he is dismissive. he's making jokes. >> i worked the cones. unbeknownst to everybody, i was the guy out there. i was in overalls and a hat, but i was actually the guy working the cones out there. >> let's talk about the investigation. we don't know if there will be a federal investigation of any significance. we look at this legislative committee and think it's like the congressional committee with lots of subpoena power and depositions, a big staff. this is a very small operation basically being run by the assemblyman who heads the transportation committee. they've subpoenaed documents from the port authority side but not from the governor's side. the governor pledged in this week's press conference full cooperation. he said we want to get to the bottom of this. i think we're headed far new jersey constitutional crisis.
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very little precedence, maybe none, as i can tell so far, of trying to subpoena a governor. will he provide testimony? will his top ailds? will he exert executive privilege? i think that will be a real moment of crisis for him not only in terms of governance but in terms of 2016, because we've seen presidents have this problem. you say you want to cooperate fully, but when the subpoena comes and they say chris christie, we want everything you have. kim suggested he better be right. i have been stunned watching people on twitter, the "new york post," "the wall street journal," owned by rupert murdoch, big supporters of christie, everyone says he's better be telling the truth. no one is taking him at his word, as best i can tell. even republicans who are huge supporters of him saying if he's telling the truth, he's fine. that is a striking situation. >> so i think there's a part of this for me that is so interesting is understanding the dna of chris christie as a politician, as a leader. by the way, these were top aides. these were -- you pointed out in
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"first read" this is the equivalent of a david plouffe. >> these are people that are very tight. in many ways bridget's running operationally parts of the state. >> right. so to that point he's asked about what does it say about him during this press conference. and i want to show that response, because this is what sticks out to me. >> what does it make me ask about me? it makes me ask about me what did i do wrong to have these folks think it was okay to lie to me. and there's a lot of soul searching that goes around with this. >> can i take a step back? if he were not a potential presidential candidate, we didn't view him this way and this whole thing happened, we'd all say, well, that's jersey. that's the culture of jersey. jersey politics, there are a lot of fiefdoms. it's always been this way. so when we keep talking about
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culture and everybody says what's the culture that he set, honestly, and it's going to offend some people in new jersey in politics, but there has been a past, a culture of this, of, you know, you rule with an iron fist. sort of old-school politics. >> yeah. >> this is the way he ran things, too, and it's what everybody does in jersey. >> chris christie, should he run for president, one of his biggest selling points is is going to be i am a competent executive of a big state. okay, and that's why this is a particularly big question for him, is because who did he have around him, are they actually managing, is he ready for prime time. that's the big thing. to go back to what mark said, and the fact everything is saying is he telling the truth, and this is why this issue is a problem as well, is that we are living in a time when americans have a lot of fear about government and whether or not government can be trusted. talking act the irs thing, the nsa flak that's been going on, the justice department looking at journalists, people abusing
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their power and their authority. and so there has to be a level of confidence among americans that chris christie isn't among that type of person. >> and at this level people want to know you're doing the right thing whether people are looking or not. that's where i think he falls into trouble, because i think when people weren't looking he was full of denials until the light got shined on him and all of a sudden now he's contrite and looking inward. that's what people expect of their executives, their public officials when no one's looking. >> you may not support him politically. do you look at that two hours as taking every question? do you think that level of crisis management was effective as a leader, as a mayor? >> i think he did the best thing on that day monopo. in december he should have been asking more questions than he did. that was the joke. to think with all that scrutiny, he says i don't know -- now he he says i didn't know anything. he chose to turn a blind eye to what his close e advisers were doing and he has to live with that.
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>> he plays by his own rules. we wrote in "double down" he was being vetted to be on the ticket for mitt romney, didn't hand in everything on a timely basis. gives the keynote speech at the convention, gets some bad reviews, brings the romney campaign to a halt at that moment complaining he thought they were leaking. you look at the way he runs his office. the reason people think he might not be telling the full truth is because anyone who's seen him as a republican governors meeting or anywhere, he plays by his own rules. that can be appealing, but in the context of new jersey sometimes things go wrong. >> more from all of you in jam. i'm joined exclusively by the mayor of fort lee, mark sokolich. it was his town that suffered four days of traffic gridlock from the lane closures on the george washington bridge. the mayor met personally with governor christie on thursday. this is what he said after that meeting. >> we view his appearance here as very productive. it was a very productive meeting. it was a cordial meeting. really the most important
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concern that we had or that i have on behalf of fort lee along with the council and the folks that are behind me are to make sure this never, ever happens again in the future. we are unconditionally, unequivocally provided with that assurance. >> mr. mayor, welcome to "meet the press." >> thank you, david. >> i want to ask you about that meeting specifically. did you put pressure on governor christie? was there a question about all of this that you asked him about what he knew, when he knew it, that he didn't answer satisfactorily for you? >> i think the beginning of the meeting was basically a recant of -- or a mini version of the press conference where he unconditionally expressed that he had absolutely no knowledge or no involvement whatsoever in this plot. we then went on to request that he provide us with adequate insurance that fort lee and the area will never, ever experience this again. >> do you believe him? >> i take him at his word. i've said that now repeatedly.
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you know, initially he wanted to come up. i was discouraging of that because i thought that, in light of the ongoing investigations, allow them to ripen a little bit more and then come up. but you know what, fort lee always will open their arms to a sitting governor. he came. he was candid. it was i thought a productive conversation. so, again, i take him at his word. there's just a lot of stuff out there, though. >> this weekend, talk about a lot of stuff out there, this weekend more e-mails have come to light. and i want to show one in just a second here that's a key one. it is from a port authority official, a crihristie appointe to one of governor christie's top advicers for all of the authorities, port authority, other authorities within the state. and it's about the lane closures. and he is saying, "i will get to the bottom of this abusive decision which violates everything this agency stands for." this is a port authority official who is making it very clear that he thinks this is an abusive decision and that conclusion as the lanes are
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reopened back in september of last year is getting to top cristy advisers. so my question to you, do you think he knew then that he knew more than he was saying just a couple days ago that he knew? >> the issue is whether he knew, but if he didn't know he certainly should have known, and i think that's the catch-22 here. that e-mail, what you just read, came from executive director pat foye. look, i've always understood that the governor ran a very, very tight ship, very tight ship in the sense that he was in control of a lot of things and he would review everything and he made sure that anything his name was even remotely involved in he was involved in. so, you know, look, it's a difficult pill to swallow. i will tell you. but you know what, i'm a jersey guy. i don't appreciate the political jokes. i signed up to build little league fields and lower taxes. and, you know, i don't want to be the brunt of a joke. so, again, i'm taking him at his
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word, david. i really am. >> taking him at his word. >> i may sound naive here, but -- >> he insists as he looks at the support, 32% support among democrats, including 20 democratic mayors in new jersey, he insists he's not a bully. do you agree with that? >> based on what i heard, i would take issue with that. i would. i mean, now what we're hearing and the other unrelated stories to the george washington bridge closure, i would probably -- you know, he's certainly tough. he's certainly hard. he's certainly strict. whether it rises to bully i leave that to your judgment. but he's tough and outspoken. and, you know, i think a lot of this he brought upon himself. i'm not so sure much of the issue and the attention that this is garnering would actually be the case if he hadn't conducted himself the way that his office has been conducting itself. >> all right. mr. mayor, i'm going to leave it there. i certain appreciate your time this morning. >> thank you, david. >> i want to turn now to the
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large esche irshoe of 2016, governor christie's prospects for a possible presidential run. after a resounding victory in november, re-election, the national press labored him a presidential front-runner. cover of "time" magazine you might remember called him the elephant in the room. will the scandal impact future republican support? here with me is the chairman of republican party, and that is reince priebus. you might be a little cautious about weighing in on this, and i want to ask this question as a close political observer. is this a test of leadership? here's what a friend of his, a mentor, former governor of new jersey tom caine told t"the washington post". he's known christie since the current governor was a teenager faulted christie for establish agriculture in his tight inner circumstance until which no one will ever say no to him, and that is dangerous. he also said that christie's approach to governing is overly aggressive and his agenda is personal. is this a leadership problem for the governor? >> no. i think what you saw the other day was leadership, was
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something that showed that, look, everyone is fallible, david. i'm fallible. you are. everyone on these panels. we all make mistakes. but the real question is what do you do when mistakes happen? there's no question he admitted mistakes happened. he admitted he trusted people that lied to him. america's a forgiving people. but they're forgiving when you take ownership, you admit mistakes, you take corrective action, and that's what chris christie showed. he stood there for 111 minutes in an open dialogue with the press. now, only if barack obama and hillary clinton would give us 111 seconds of that would we find out some things we want to find out about obamacare, benghazi, the irs. i mean, chris christie has been totally open here. >> let me pick up on that point, chairman. you have said about the president and the irs scandal there's been no direct tie of course from what happened with the irs to the president just as there has not been a direct tie
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to governor christie with what happened here. but you said he set a tone for these things to happen, about the president. is that true here? did governor christie set a tone where the people who exacted this act of petty political retribution thought the boss would acquiesce, say it was okay? >> here's what he did, and here's what he admitted. he admitted that he trusted people that lied to him, and he's asking a lot of questions about himself as far as why that happened. >> the question i asked, did he set a tone -- >> wait a minute. >> did he set the tone? that's what you said the president did. >> no. he trusted people that lied to him and he fired those people. the president doubles down on eric holder. he doubles down on hillary clinton and low is learner and susan rice. it's the opposite effect. >> hold on. there's some deflection going on here, and i respect your position. you said in may of -- you're the one who brought up the president and the irs. you said there, there's denying he, the president, created a culture in his administration that encouraged the targeting of these groups. there's not evidence to prove
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that linkage. that's your assertion. >> right. >> but if that's your assertion about tone there, why isn't true of governor chris christie setting a tone? >> here's why. because chris christie gave us almost two hours of open dialogue and open cross-examination with the press. because you can judge a person. a person's character. we had an opportunity to do that. that's what chris christie offered not only to the people of new jersey but to people across the country. the president never offered that open dialogue so people could determine the character of the president. >> you've given him a close look. you're chairman of the party. you dig in on these things. how would a rogue operation like this spring up underneath his feet without him knowing about it at all or without those people close to him for a long time thinking it would be okay if we did this? >> well, look, new jersey is a huge, complicated government and so is the port authority. people made decisions at the port authority that they shouldn't have made, and those
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people are gone. the person that oversaw at least in part some of the decisions of the port authority seemed to have apparent knowledge of what was going on. she's gone. after the fact, the campaign manager made comments that were callous, and chris christie didn't like it. he's gone. >> there's been no direct link made to governor christie. do you think there will be one? >> no, i don't think there will be one because i think we've got a really smart person in chris christie who's a former u.s. attorney, who understands what's out there, and thousands and thousands of documents have been revealed and not one single link to chris christie has been found. >> let me ask you about your potential opponents for the republican party in 2016, and that's hillary clinton. we'll talk more about the robert gates book. he writes this in part over the debate on afghanistan. hillary clinton, the secretary of state, told the president that her opposition to the 2007 surge in iraq 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 hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front
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of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying. certainly liberal democrats may have an issue with her taking a position as reported by robert gates. how do you view it? >> i think she's a political person, and i think what this country is stampbing for are real, authentic people that want to serve this country with a pure heart. when they read these things about hillary clinton and examine her life, they question it. and i think this is something that is going to be potentially on the ballot coming 2016 and surrounds hillary clinton wherever she goes. is she real? is she authentic? is she genuine? does she want to serve this country with a pure heart? i think she's political and the book shows that. >> is chris christie still a front-runner or does he face a personality problem? >> we have a lot of good candidates that are at least percolating right now, and we've got a cup from my own state of wisconsin. so i think we've got a great bench. we're a young, fresh party, and we'll see what happens.
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>> chairman reince priebus, thanks as always. appreciate it. >> thank you, david. >> we'll take a break. coming up, more on the fallout from the bridge scandal and chris christie's response. >> i hope that the public isn't influenced to discard the guy over something like that. >> presidential ambition. one of the first tests in the 2016 campaign will be iowa. how is the new jersey governor playing with voters there? we went to the hawkeye state to find out. plus, a bombshell tell-all casting doubt on president obama's leadership from a member of his inner circle. our roundtable debates the impact of the new memory. and struggling to escape the throes of poverty. why tens of millions of women are on the brink. maria shriver joins me with details of her new report. we know why we're here. to chart a greener path in the air and in our factories.
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were back. so how is the christie scandal going to play with voters outside the northeast? iowa is a critical test for republicans. the caucus is there, kick tough a race for the white house in 2016. we sent our own john yang to the hawkeye state to see if bridgegate is having an impact. >> reporter: at the machine shed restaurant in urbandale, iowa, the monthly meeting of the ruby rebels. two topics are out of bounds -- religion and politics. for us, they made an exception. what do you think of what's going on with chris christie? >> well, i think it's very interesting. i can't imagine that he could be clueless when he shut down a major bridge. >> reporter: glenda dawson is a registered democrat who says she sometimes votes republican. >> i don't think that plays very well. no matter what party you are. >> reporter: georgia pearson's view of the new jersey governor has changed. >> if he had been bipartisan, maybe, and to find out that this
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was a very political thing really changed my opinion. >> reporter: the road to the white house begins here in iowa. but could gridlock on the george washington bridge block a christie run? republican dave rieder says the whole thing is silly. >> it's so strange that you think messing with someone's drive to work is going to be retribution to a mayor. i think it seems sort of comical and almost made up. >> reporter: independent tom blue agrees. >> you know, it's so hard to cultivate a presidential candidate, and i hope that the public isn't influenced to discard the guy over something like that. >> reporter: christie's no stranger to iowa, having campaigned here for normal the 2012 race. >> the great governor of new jersey, chris christie! >> reporter: last month's des moines, register, iowa poll found that 51% of iowa republicans have a favorable view of christie, putting him in the top tier of potential 2016
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candidates. republican strategist jeff boyik calls him a front-runner. >> he's under a microscope here so this kind of stuff is going to be play here, is going to be important here, so iowans will continue to watch and we'll continue to see how he reacts and responds. >> reporter: while republican caucusgoers have recently favored social conservatives, 2016 could be different. though a moderate, corpus christiie's combative style appeals to some of iowa's harder edged republicans. >> he is a rock star to republicans who are hungry for someone who will take their message and hammer it home. i mean, that was his great appeal, that he was a guy that would take no prisoners. >> reporter: analysts here say one thing working in cristy's favor is that the caucuses are two years away, plenty of time for the governor to try to put this behind him, unless there are more damaging disclosures to come. david? >> john, thank you so much. never too early for you to be asking political questions in
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iowa. i appreciate your time this morning. back to our roundtable. chuck, when we talk politics, as we do all the time, you always say, look, to be president, temperamentally you've got to go through the midwest. that's why we sent john there, to get that visceral take outside the northeast. >> six months ago we had this conversation, will jersey play in the midwest. i'm talking about general election. always the candidate with that midwestern demeanor, usually been a southerner or in the case of barack obama a midwesterner, and that's always been my question before all this. and i have to say, the other thing we learned during the scandal, cristhristie's on an island. not a lot of republicans coming to his support. >> you think about iowa, the early states, ideology and the primary process, how much is personality going to be more important than ideology? >> personality is going to be huge because actually, by the way, that is a big attraction for a lot of people with christie. >> yeah. absolutely. >> don't forget. and i don't think anyone should underestimate a little bit of
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what mr. priebus was saying. the fact he came out this week and immediately fired people and took responsibility is not something everyone sees in government all the time, and that may play well with some people. >> i'm going to leetch it theav. thanks to all of you for an interesting discussion. we're going to take a break. up next, questions of leadership. that bombshell new memoir from former defense secretary robert gates. ♪ [ cellphones beeping ] ♪ [ cellphone rings ] hello? [ male announcer ] over 12,000 financial advisors. good, good. good. over $700 billion dollars in assets under care. let me just put this away. [ male announcer ] how did edward jones get so big? could you teach our kids that trick? [ male announcer ] by not acting that way. ok, last quarter... [ male announcer ] it's how edward jones makes sense of investing. ♪
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we asked you on facebook this morning to let us know your thoughts on the christie bridge scandal. as one put it this morning, are his 2016 chances toast or is this just a minor hiccup? let us know at so i c an reach ally bank 24/7, but there are no branches? 24/7. i'm sorry, i'm just really reluctant to try new things. really? what's wrong with trying new things? look! mommy's new vacuum! (cat screech) you feel that in your muscles? i do... drink water. it's a long story. well, not having branches let's us give you great rates and service. i'd like that. a new way to bank. a better way to save. ally bank. your money needs an ally.
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we are back. some new folks on the
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roundtable, two big stories we're talking about this week, new jersey governor chris christie and the bridge scandal, but also this bombshell tell-all book by former defense secretary robert gates. i'm joined by robert gibbs, former press secretary for president obama, who was president at the time. former presidential candidate and pennsylvania senator rick santorum, former congresswoman from california, now the head of the wilson center, jane harman, bloomberg view columnist, jeffrey goldberg. and chris mathews. i want to get to the substance of the debate about the president's leadership in national security affairs, particularly afghanistan. here is a key excerpt from the book. gates writing about the march 20 meeting in is the situation room. gates write, "as i sat there, i thought, the president doesn't trust his commander, can't stand afghan president hamid karzai, doesn't believe in his own
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strategy, and doesn't consider the war to be his. for him, it's all about getting out." chris mathews, how scathing is this of obama's leadership? >> well, it has a certain tone to it, but i think he's right in the sense that president obama ran on the campaign to get us out of afghanistan. that was his mission. there's nothing wrong with that. he makes it sound like there's something wrong with that. that's tonal. the policy of this president when he came into office, got into office, was wind down two wars, and he did so. maybe what wasn't gates' point of view, but it was obama's. >> is it clear, robert gibbs, if i'm reading the book and i think some of the press coverage has been overwritten, he's harshly critical of the political operation, i think that would include you, political advisers to the president -- >> i think he intimated i might have been the deputy secretary of defense. ? and he's critical about interagency process, in other words, there was a feeling that the president himself had that the military was trying to jam him on the idea of surging up forces. >> i think one of the things you take away, at least from the excerpts of this book, is that
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bob gates doesn't like any questions about bob gates, whether they're from members of congress, whether they're from civilians, in the west wing or in the national security agency. look, barack obama was and i assume continues to be skeptical of our military ability to solve afghanistan. we have been in afghanistan now longer than we have been in any foreign land conducting a war in our nation's history. was this president and was the team at the white house skeptical of mission creep? every day that i was there, and i would be shocked if it hasn't been every day since i have left. the president wanted a smaller surge of troops that was limited in time to put pressure on the afghans to have to solve their problem while we decimated and degraded al qaeda. that's what he decided. and incidentally, that's what gates supported in a book that "the post" called maddeningly self-contradictly.
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>> michael moore, rick santorum -- >> they don't go together. >> that's why i'm putting them together. because here's something he tweeted this week. "bob gates in his new book says obama appointees in the white house were, quote, suspicious of and didn't trust the military honchos. thank god." >> the larger point to this pook in my opinion was the fact the president puts domestic politics before international concerns. everything's seen through the lens of domestic politics. that comment that was quoted about hillary and the president about why they oppose the surge and -- it is all about -- from an outsider. i'm not inside. robert may have obviously a very different perspective. from the outside, everything seems to be driven as to how can we pull things back to domestic politics and not about -- >> wait, wait, wait. go ahead. >> i just have to -- i have to issue a small correction. i just read the book. he doesn't say that about the president. he says politics does come into the conversation, but he says specifically in terms of the
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president, maybe not some of the operatives, the president makes the decisions based on national security. and the truth of the matter, and you're right about the overwritten quality of some of the coverage, i mean, robert gates says specifically in his book, i agree the president made the right decisions on all the primary questions on afghanistan. >> right. >> so the scandal is not quite as much of a scandal has people think. >> and why are we shocked that the elected president of the united states, who is a politician, would consider politics? he's also, by the way, the commander in chief. it's not gates. it's not the head of the military and the pentagon. it's the president who under the constitution is the commander in chief. and so he is the one who needs to be making these decisions. i haven't read the book. most of us probably haven't. i read the excerpts, which are probably not as knew wanlsed as the book, which jeffrey has read. i don't know if others here have read it yet. i wish he had waited to write this book for two reasons. number one, i think he would have thought differently away from the heat of battle. but number two, i don't think it's so cool to write a book during the term of the guy you
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serve, especially when you got the medal of freedom. and i hope that leon panetta, who's writing a book, will wait. jane to leon, please wait. >> would you write a book while you were still there? >> marvin fritz told me you should not write a book that your boss has to answer to while he's in office. and i wouldn't write a book while he's in office. look, gates made his own decision. let me address the politics of this. i think if you look at every national security decision that surrounded 13 meetings on afghanistan, there one decision that if you looked at where the american people were in putting another 33,000 american troops in afghanistan that was even remotely politically popular. the war right now is as unpopular as anything going in america right now. the notion that the president -- and i think this is why, again, it's maddeningly self-contradictory, gates puts in front of the fact that somehow that politics was drive deg situation, yet each and
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every decision the president made was absolutely contradictory to the politics of the moment. >> gates does give him credit for that, for bucking not just the politics but the politicaled a advice that he was given. >> the president when he ran the first time said the war we need to win is afghanistan. don't say he was not doing things that were consistent with his political agenda. they were. the thing i have the most problems with -- >> thought of as the good war. >> the good war. the problems i have with this administration are less afghanistan than what we did in iraq when we pulled out of iraq, because it was politically popular to pull out of iraq and not leave -- >> let me get a comment from chris. >> when we look at the text of what gates actually said, he said hillary clinton said her politics during the campaign against obama in the caucuses out there, iowa especially, were driven by politics, but she did think the surge worked. then it gets to the president. it doesn't say he conceded or acknowledged his politics -- he was totally against the iraq
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war, obviously against the surge consistently. the way people are reading this is double barreled. reallitis a shot against hillary, not against obama. >> it's complicated. the surge probably worked because there was an indigenous pushback against the radical al qaeda forces plus the surge. in afghanistan, i was in congress at the time, i didn't support the surge. i didn't even support counterinsurgency because i didn't think it fit in afghanistan. and i expressed my view ls personally to dave petraeus, who strongly disagreed with me but who remains a close friend, so i think there was a difference of opinion among people who were seriously focused on making afghanistan come out right. >> another figure who gets some pretty harsh treatment in this book, i think we can all agree, and that's the vice president, joe biden. he writes the following. "i think he has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades." jeff goldberg, other than that -- >> the book is wonderfully passive aggressive. i admire your patriotism and
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your loyalty. but you're terrible at your job. but i love everything about you. no. i mean, going to this point about hillary, i don't even think hillary is really a target in this book. he goes out of his way to praise her as his primary partner in this administration. he has a couple of shots. you know, she's not going to appreciate that business about the surge. joe biden gets it in the neck in this. his good friend, joe biden, gets it in the neck. and most of the staff. i mean, what's so interesting about this book, and you have to read the whole thing to get this feeling, is that this is a very seemingly placid man who is boiling with rage this entire time in this administration. >> right. i want to make a turn here because the christie story is still so interesting and so many people are talking about it. rick santorum, i have to ask you, we were in iowa. you won iowa in 2012. making sure i have my year right. that's when you won it. the question is, if you were running again, if you run in 2016, and i know you're thinking about it, and you're on the
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debate stage with chris christie, what's the question you put to him about this and is it a big question? >> well, you know, you sfrirs to compliment him for facing the issue, which is, again, i agree with reince priebus, what the president has not done with a lot of these struggles that he's had and conflicts. chris christie went up, manned up, and took it on and was decisive. i have several concerns about it, and one of the concerns i have is the -- a good friend of mine always used to tell me personnel is policy. and the people that you hire are the policies that are implemented. and what we've seen is two, three, four -- i mean, there's more e-mails. i don't know how many more are coming out. it is very clear that the personnel there was not sensitive to what seemed to be a fairly obvious wrong thing to do. >> right. and, chris mathews, it's interesting, republicans have been very quiet about this. but some of the more harsh
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criticism has been, hey, chris christie was done in conservative eyes when he put his arm around barack obama during hurricane sandy. that's what you've heard over and over again this week. >> that's the inconsistent thing. i've always liked christie's style because i'm an east coast guy and i like the south jersey thing. i do like that. but i do think his reputation was that of a troubleshooter. he got to hurricane situation, sandy, right on top of it, he was moving fast, there with his fleece, getting to work. in the case of the bridge closings, four days in a row, four hours shutdown of traffic, things happening, ambulances that couldn't get through. where is the troubleshooter then? why isn't he asking anybody then what's really going on here? because he didn't want to know. that's what it sounds like. >> that has to be the last word. we're out of time. thanks to you all. great topics. coming up, we switch gears a bit. my colleague maria shriver will be here on how women are struggling to push back from the brink of poverty.
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♪ this week's "images to remember." coming up next, 50 years since the war on poverty, women are doing it all, both breadwinners and caregivers. but millions are still struggling financially. maria shriver is here to unveil the startling results of her new report next. there's a saying around here,
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you stand behind what you say. around here you don't make excuses. you make commitments. and when you can't live up to them, you own up, and make it right. some people think the kind of accountability that thrives on so many streets in this country has gone missing in the places where it's needed most. but i know you'll still find it when you know where to look.
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of the dusty basement at 1406 35th street the old dining table at 25th and hoffman. ...and the little room above the strip mall off roble avenue. ♪ this magic moment it is the story of where every great idea begins. and of those who believed they had the power to do more. dell is honored to be part of some of the world's great stories. that began much the same way ours did. in a little dorm room -- 2713. ♪ this magic moment ♪ ♪ this magic moment if we don't double the number of kids graduating from high school in the next 8 years, our country won't be able to compete globally. what uncle sam needs now are more good teachers. are you up for it? you can help kids graduate. the more you know. and that's unacceptable. after 50 year, isn't it time to
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declare big government's war on poverty a failure? >> that was florida senator marco rubio from a video he released this week. it was 50 years ago that president lyndon johnson declared war on poverty. well, now, a new report from nbc news special anchor maria shriver gives us an eye-opening look at the financial struggles for millions of women in the u.s. it is called "the shriver report," the latest in a series, a woman's nation pushes back from the brink. maria is here to reveal the results. welcome back. >> thank you, david. >> before we have our conversation, i want to look at some of the key findings in your report. >> reporter: the troubling headline from the report, that 1 in 3 american women live at or near the brink of poverty. that's 42 million women and 28 million children who depend on them. medical illness, a missed paycheck, a broken-down car away from economic ruin. the face of economic insecurity has changed from 50 years ago when president lyndon johnson launched his war on poverty.
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the man who led that effort was maria shriver's father, sargent shriver. he appeared here on "meet the press" back in 1964. >> they're getting too little food, inadequate education, they're living in substandard housing, but most of all they have no chance of getting out of the condition they're in and joining the rest of american society. >> reporter: back then, the face of poverty was appalachian. today i it's mothers like catk e katrina gilbert, who works at a senior center. >> hi. are you done? >> yes, i am. >> reporter: her story is profiled in a new hbo documentary made for "the shriver report." >> i'll be back tomorrow. >> $9.49 an hour for what we do. >> reporter: for millions of women like katrina, "the shriver report" documents how the dream of having it all has morphed into just hanging on, working mothers caught between their roles as breadwinners and primary caregivers. >> you call us, dad?
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>> yeah. >> reporter: it isn't the cleaver family of the 1950s anymore. today only 20% of families have a father who works and a stay-at-home mom. now 4 out of every 10 families with children have mothers who are the primary or only breadwinner. and the report looked at how women on the brink view their own lives. 54% feel the harder i work the more i fall behind. 60% feel the economy does not work for people like me. and 75% wish they had stayed in school longer. but these women are also optimistic. 62% believe their financial situation will get better in the next five years. >> and we're back with maria. good to see you. >> yeah. that's exciting. i think all the women think their lives can get better, but i think it's a wake-up call to the united states that 1 in 3 working women in this country are in economic peril. >> what i'm curious about, when you write about it in this
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report, is women have arrived, have transformed society in so many ways, getting more power, becoming breadwinner, still as caregivers. such a huge impact from leadership to consumer behavior, and yet this, and yet the 1 out of 3 on the brink. why? >> because so many women don't have the advantages that other women have, just like men. so many of the women that responded to our poll said they wished they had stayed and gotten their education. that's a predictor of being in economic peril. the message of this report is to women as well, to say you must think of yourself as providers, not being provided for. you've got to stay in school. you've got to get your education. delay family planning as long as you possibly can because those are primary indicators of ending up on the brink. >> we were talking about men's and women's roles changing in society. >> right. >> we're going to do that at some point, have that larger conversation because it's so interesting and so important. but this plays a role, right, in a huge way in how, for one
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thing, how women negotiate some of these difficulties at work. they may have a tough schedule, may not have a lot of leverage. this is not cheryl stand berg talking act leaning in. they are leaning in but they're still stuck. >> these are women who feel like they don't have a foundation to stand on. they don't want to be told to reach for the glass ceiling. they don't have flexible hours. 70% of the women who earn minimum wage don't have one sick day. the poll we did, over 3,000 people, respond with the number-one thing that would make the most difference to them was getting sick days. >> how do they negotiate better? >> first of all, they have to come together, right, for those women like you saw katrina gilbert, negotiating isn't even on her plate. she's trying to figure out how to take care of her kids, pay her rent, put food on the table. she's also looking to go back to school because she doesn't want to stay in the low-paying job that she has. these are people who are trying
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to survive on palestiniminimum which is not a living wage. >> the report itself is so interesting. i've been going through it and it's such a great resource and interesting read at different lefls. you have lebron james paying tribute to his mom, a single mother, a rock of stability for him and his later success. the role of men here is interesting because there are a lot of single moms you're talking nabt this book, but men as caregivers has got to be a part of this conversation. >> men totally a part of this conversation in terms of how they raise their daughters, in terms of how they support their wives and their partners. and what's good for women at the center of the economy is also goold nor men. men need flexible hours. men need sick days because they're going to be caring for parents as well. men need all these things that these women need. these are smart family policies that we're talking about in this report. i think if people are interested in the report you can download it for free at shriverreport .og
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and read about it. we're saying government and businesses have not kept up and we need to modernize our relationships to women. >> you heard marco rubio. there's obviously a debate. conservatives want to get more into the discussion of dealing poverty even as they renounce the war on poverty from lyndon johnson a failure. where does government play a role? >> i would like to correct that. the war on poverty was not a failure. daddy ran the program. many of those programs still exist today. when the war on poverty was funded, it was a success. when the money was diverted to the war in vietnam it lost its momentum. but programs like head start, vista, job corps, legal services for the poor, the people that benefited from those programs i don't think think it was a failure. but i think it's great that mark rub rubio, paul ryan, and others are engaged in this debantamweight right now. that's what we wanted to do with this report was ignite a conversation about low-income people. >> what do women need?
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>> they haven't talked about women at all, as far as i'm concerned, which is why i was happy to give this report to congressman ryan. i hope senator rubio begins to talk about putting women at the center of some of the proposals they're putting forward. i think this will be an issue that democrats and republicans have got to come together on. i learned that being a democratic first lady in a republican administration in a democratic state that there's a lot of things states can do that are innovative, a lot of innovative things going on in nonprofits and church groups. i think when democrats and republicans can come together on these issues we will see movement, we will see political will, but also i think women who are 54% of the vote, they should come together and support men and women who are running for office who talk about these things. it's not the purview of just democrats. it's not the purview of just female politicians and elected leaders. men have a lot to say about this as well. >> and maybe understanding that it's the power of women is ultimately the power of our country, not separating it out. >> absolutely not. i think women are at the center
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of our country. they're at the center, as i said, in electing our political leaders, the center of the economy, the center of the family. and when women do well, men do well and the nation does well. when women do well, they don't just support other women doing well, but we support our sons and our daughters. i think this i hope will ignite an entire conversation about women who are doing really well and those that are on the margins. we call for women to be 21st century employers themselves. there's a lot we can do that involves personal responsibility, that involves business, and that involves government. so i would agree with rubio and ryan that it's not just the area of government, but i would say there's a lot government still can do. >> 20 seconds left. you talked about your mother. she thought power was about becoming a politician. >> in her day and age, i believe that's where power was. today it's in the streets and washington responds to what comes up from the streets. i hope people will read this report, take it in, talk about
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it at their kitchen tables and i hope parents will talk to their daughters about being providers for themselves and their families. >>ly do that. >> do that. >> thank you marx rhea. >> thank you, david. >> tomorrow morning on "today," former secretary robert gates with his first live interview since the release of his new memoir, "duty," that we've talked about here on program today. next week i'll interview secretary gates about his book. that is all for today. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press."
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tom kelly of the legendary design firm ideo tries to unlock the secrets of creativity? want to work at google? sharif says he can make you a programmer in nine weeks. and charlie moore weighs in on snapchat, privacy, and what to do in a company crisis. our reporter's business blogger and quinton hardy of the new york times, this week on "press here." good morning, everyone, there's a chance of convenience stores in the midwest called quick trip. you can get yourself a newspaper or sick pack or whatnot -- six pack or whatnot. it's a 50-year-old

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